A meta-analysis of crop pest and natural enemy response to landscape complexity


Correspondence and present address: E-mail:rchaplin@berkeley.edu California Institute for Energy & Environment, University of California, Berkeley, 2087 Addison Street – 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 922–932


Many studies in recent years have investigated the relationship between landscape complexity and pests, natural enemies and/or pest control. However, no quantitative synthesis of this literature beyond simple vote-count methods yet exists. We conducted a meta-analysis of 46 landscape-level studies, and found that natural enemies have a strong positive response to landscape complexity. Generalist enemies show consistent positive responses to landscape complexity across all scales measured, while specialist enemies respond more strongly to landscape complexity at smaller scales. Generalist enemy response to natural habitat also tends to occur at larger spatial scales than for specialist enemies, suggesting that land management strategies to enhance natural pest control should differ depending on whether the dominant enemies are generalists or specialists. The positive response of natural enemies does not necessarily translate into pest control, since pest abundances show no significant response to landscape complexity. Very few landscape-scale studies have estimated enemy impact on pest populations, however, limiting our understanding of the effects of landscape on pest control. We suggest focusing future research efforts on measuring population dynamics rather than static counts to better characterise the relationship between landscape complexity and pest control services from natural enemies.