Approaches to identify the value of seminatural habitats for conservation biological control

Holland, John M.; Jeanneret, Philippe; Moonen, Anna Camilla; Werf, Wopke van der; Rossing, Walter A.H.; Antichi, Daniele; Entling, Martin H.; Giffard, Brice; Helsen, Herman; Szalai, Mark; Rega, Carlo; Gibert, Caroline; Veromann, Eve


Invertebrates perform many vital functions in agricultural production, but many taxa are in decline, including pest natural enemies. Action is needed to increase their abundance if more sustainable agricultural systems are to be achieved. Conservation biological control (CBC) is a key component of integrated pest management yet has failed to be widely adopted in mainstream agriculture. Approaches to improving conservation biological control have been largely ad hoc. Two approaches are described to improve this process, one based upon pest natural enemy ecology and resource provision while the other focusses on the ecosystem service delivery using the QuESSA (Quantification of Ecological Services for Sustainable Agriculture) project as an example. In this project, a predictive scoring system was developed to show the potential of five seminatural habitat categories to provide biological control, from which predictive maps were generated for Europe. Actual biological control was measured in a series of case studies using sentinel systems (insect or seed prey), trade-offs between ecosystem services were explored, and heatmaps of biological control were generated. The overall conclusion from the QuESSA project was that results were context specific, indicating that more targeted approaches to CBC are needed. This may include designing new habitats or modifying existing habitats to support the types of natural enemies required for specific crops or pests.