Balancing disturbance and conservation in agroecosystems to improve biological control

John F. Tooker, Matthew E. O'Neal, Cesar Rodriguez-Saona

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Disturbances associated with agricultural intensification reduce our ability to achieve sustainable crop production. These disturbances stem from crop-management tactics and can leave crop fields more vulnerable to insect outbreaks, in part because natural-enemy communities often tend to be more susceptible to disturbance than herbivorous pests. Recent research has explored practices that conserve natural-enemy communities and reduce pest outbreaks, revealing that different components of agroecosystems can influence natural-enemy populations. In this review, we consider a range of disturbances that influence pest control provided by natural enemies and how conservation practices can mitigate or counteract disturbance. We use four case studies to illustrate how conservation and disturbance mitigation increase the potential for biological control and provide co-benefits for the broader agroecosystem. To facilitate the adoption of conservation practices that improve top-down control across significant areas of the landscape, these practices will need to provide multifunctional benefits, but should be implemented with natural enemies explicitly in mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-100
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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