The Ecological Complexities of Biological Control: Trophic Cascades, Spatial Heterogeneity, and Behavioral Ecology


  • Glen N. Stevens
  • Robin J. Stuart


Bioassay, biological control, bush lupine, citrus, entomopathogenic nematodes, meta-analysis, plant parasitic nematodes, trophic cascade


Biological control can be considered an intentional induction of a trophic cascade, whereby the addition of herbivores' natural enemies or other habitat manipulations effectively enhance natural enemy populations, lead to reduced herbivore populations or feeding damage, and indirectly improve or protect plant health, agricultural yield, or the condition of some other biotic population or community of interest to man. The following set of papers (Denno et al., 2008; Ram et al., 2008; Stuart and Duncan, 2008; Spence et al. 2008) offer insights into the broad- and fine-scale factors that ultimately contribute to the success of biological control efforts. Many of the ideas herein were presented and discussed during a special session at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nematologists. The goal of this session was to examine explicitly the ramifications of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the context of effective biological control. The biological focus was primarily on interactions involving entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN), although many of the authors' conclusions are applicable to other types of nematodes, soil fauna and natural enemies in general.