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The population consequences of natural enemy enhancement, and implications for conservation biological control




We explore models for the management of invertebrate pests by enhancing the efficacy or local abundance of existing natural enemies. Different aspects of natural enemy biology had different effects on prey density. Enhancement of enemy search rate or prey conversion efficiency showed the greatest potential for reducing prey density, while maximum consumption rate by predators, and parasitoid fecundity, had less effect. The effect on prey density of increased natural enemy longevity depended on its interaction with other parameters. The degree of manipulation needed to achieve a given reduction in prey populations was largely determined by the enemy's potential reproductive rate. Spatial ‘‘attraction’’ of enemies to a target site had an almost linear effect on local prey density. We conclude that successful conservation biological control benefits from a directed approach, targeting the most important aspects of natural enemy ecology, and that there is considerable potential for further research in this area.