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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Additive effects of predator diversity on pest control caused by few interactions among predator species

Roubinet, Eve; Straub, Cory; Jonsson, Tomas; Staudacher, Karin; Traugott, Michael; Ekbom, Barbara; Jonsson, Mattias


1. Studies of the impact of predator diversity on biological pest control have shown idiosyncratic results. This is often assumed to be as a result of differences among systems in the importance of predator-predator interactions such as facilitation and intraguild predation. The frequency of such interactions may be altered by prey availability and structural complexity. A direct assessment of interactions among predators is needed for a better understanding of the mechanisms affecting prey abundance by complex predator communities. 2. In a field cage experiment, the effect of increased predator diversity (single species vs. three-species assemblage) and the presence of weeds (providing structural complexity) on the biological control of cereal aphids were tested and the mechanisms involved were investigated using molecular gut content analysis. 3. The impact of the three-predator species assemblages of aphid populations was found to be similar to those of the single-predator species treatments, and the presence or absence of weeds did not alter the patterns observed. This suggests that both predator facilitation and intraguild predation were absent or weak in this system, or that these interactions had counteracting effects on prey suppression. Molecular gut content analysis of predators provided little evidence for the latter hypothesis: predator facilitation was not detected and intraguild predation occurred at a low frequency. 4. The present study suggests additive effects of predators and, therefore, that predator diversity per se neither strengthens nor weakens the biological control of aphids in this system.


Biocontrol; Chrysoperla carnea; Coccinella septempunctata; field cage experiment; molecular gut content analysis; multiplex PCR; Pterostichus melanarius; trophic interactions

Published in

Ecological Entomology
2015, volume: 40, number: 4, pages: 362-371

Authors' information

Roubinet, Eve
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Straub, Cory
Ursinus College
Jonsson, Tomas
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Staudacher, Karin
University of Innsbruck
Traugott, Michael
University of Innsbruck
Ekbom, Barbara
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

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