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Functional diversity positively affects prey suppression by invertebrate predators: a meta‐analysis

Greenop, Arran, Woodcock, Ben A., Wilby, Andy, Cook, Samantha M., Pywell, Richard F.
Ecology 2018 v.99 no.8 pp. 1771-1782
agroecosystems, ecological differentiation, ecosystem services, foraging, functional diversity, habitats, herbivores, invertebrates, meta-analysis, pest control, pesticides, pests, phylogeny, predators, species diversity
The use of pesticides within agricultural ecosystems has led to wide concern regarding negative effects on the environment. One possible alternative is the use of predators of pest species that naturally occur within agricultural ecosystems. However, the mechanistic basis for how species can be manipulated in order to maximize pest control remains unclear. We carried out a meta‐analysis of 51 studies that manipulated predator species richness in reference to suppression of herbivore prey to determine which components of predator diversity affect pest control. Overall, functional diversity (FD) based on predator's habitat domain, diet breadth and hunting strategy was ranked as the most important variable. Our analysis showed that increases in FD in polycultures led to greater prey suppression compared to both the mean of the component predator species, and the most effective predator species, in monocultures. Further analysis of individual traits indicated these effects are likely to be driven by broad niche differentiation and greater resource exploitation in functionally diverse predator communities. A decoupled measure of phylogenetic diversity, whereby the overlap in variation with FD was removed, was not found to be an important driver of prey suppression. Our results suggest that increasing FD in predatory invertebrates will help maximize pest control ecosystem services in agricultural ecosystems, with the potential to increase suppression above that of the most effective predator species.