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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Archetype models upscale understanding of natural pest control response to land-use change

Alexandridis, Nikolaos; Marion, Glenn; Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca; Dainese, Matteo; Ekroos, Johan; Grab, Heather; Jonsson, Mattias; Karp, Daniel S.; Meyer, Carsten; O'Rourke, Megan E.; Pontarp, Mikael; Poveda, Katja; Seppelt, Ralf; Smith, Henrik G.; Walters, Richard J.; Clough, Yann; Martin, Emily A.


Control of crop pests by shifting host plant availability and natural enemy activity at landscape scales has great potential to enhance the sustainability of agriculture. However, mainstreaming natural pest control requires improved understanding of how its benefits can be realized across a variety of agroecological contexts. Empirical studies suggest significant but highly variable responses of natural pest control to land-use change. Current ecological models are either too specific to provide insight across agroecosystems or too generic to guide management with actionable predictions. We suggest obtaining the full benefit of available empirical, theoretical, and methodological knowledge by combining trait-mediated understanding from correlative studies with the explicit representation of causal relationships achieved by mechanistic modeling. To link these frameworks, we adapt the concept of archetypes, or context-specific generalizations, from sustainability science. Similar responses of natural pest control to land-use gradients across cases that share key attributes, such as functional traits of focal organisms, indicate general processes that drive system behavior in a context-sensitive manner. Based on such observations of natural pest control, a systematic definition of archetypes can provide the basis for mechanistic models of intermediate generality that cover all major agroecosystems worldwide. Example applications demonstrate the potential for upscaling understanding and improving predictions of natural pest control, based on knowledge transfer and scientific synthesis. A broader application of this mechanistic archetype approach promises to enhance ecology's contribution to natural resource management across diverse regions and social-ecological contexts.


archetype; conservation biological control; crop; ecological model; landscape; land use; natural enemy; natural pest control; pest; upscale

Published in

Ecological Applications
2022, volume: 32, number: 8, article number: e2696
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Alexandridis, Nikolaos
Lund University
Marion, Glenn
Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland
Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca
Stanford University
Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Dainese, Matteo
European Academy (EURAC)
Ekroos, Johan
Lund University
Grab, Heather
Cornell University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Karp, Daniel S.
University of California Davis
Meyer, Carsten
German Ctr Integrat Biodivers Res iDiv
Meyer, Carsten
Leipzig University
Meyer, Carsten
Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
O'Rourke, Megan E.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Pontarp, Mikael
Lund University
Poveda, Katja
Cornell University
Seppelt, Ralf
Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
Seppelt, Ralf
Helmholtz Association
Smith, Henrik G.
Lund University
Walters, Richard J.
Lund University
Clough, Yann
Lund University

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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