Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Could increased understanding of foraging behavior help to predict the success of biological control?

Abstract

Importation biological control, the introduction of a specialist natural enemy from the region of origin of an invasive pest or weed, has been practiced for more than 100 years and has provided some iconic success stories, but also a number of failures. To improve both the success and safety of biological control in the future it is important to consider all opportunities that can help to transform biological control into a more predictive science. Once established, whether or not an imported natural enemy can reduce the abundance and distribution of an invasive host, likely depends on a suite of life history and behavioral traits that include phenological synchronization and foraging efficiency among many others. One key aspect of foraging efficiency is how individuals respond to the patchy distribution of hosts in a spatially fragmented environment when facing potential competition and predation risk. Another is what distributions of natural enemy foraging effort lead to the greatest temporal reduction in mean host density among patches. Here we explore the current theoretical framework for natural enemy foraging behavior and find some evidence that a weak resource dilution distribution of natural enemies among patches might be an important trait for improving the success of importation biological control.