Identifying traits that are associated with success of introduced natural enemies in establishing and controlling pest insects has occupied researchers and biological control practitioners for decades. Unfortunately, consistent general relationships have been difficult to detect, preventing a priori ranking of candidate biological control agents based on their traits. We summarise previous efforts and propose a series of potential explanations for the lack of clear patterns. We argue that the quality of current datasets is insufficient to detect complex trait–efficacy relationships and suggest several measures by which current limitations may be overcome. We conclude that efforts to address this elusive issue have not yet been exhausted and that further explorations are likely to be worthwhile.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Moshe Coll, Marc Mangel, Saskya van Nouhuys, Ohad Peled, Bernie Roitberg, and Netta Shamir-Weller for fruitful discussions and technical support. We acknowledge support from the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies for the research group programme ‘Mathematical modelling of biological control interactions to support agriculture and conservation’.
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd
- crop plant
- importation biological control
- insect pest
- natural enemy
- trait-based approach
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics