Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Laubmeier AN, Tabassum N and Tenhumberg B (2023) Temperature fluctuation alters optimal predator community composition for anticipated biological control. Front. Ecol. Evol. 10:998396. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.998396


open access.


Alongside pesticides and specialist predators, natural communities of generalist beetle and spider predators play an important role in suppressing agricultural pests. However, the predation pressure of natural communities can be unpredictable. Overall predation pressure is influenced by a dense network of potential intraguild interactions, which are further shaped by species traits and environmental factors. Understanding how these different influences combine to impact pest control is especially important in the context of changing global temperatures. Recent empirical studies have demonstrated that the foraging behavior of arthropod predators is influenced by an interaction between temperature and predator body size. To explore the consequences of these findings for intraguild interactions and pest control, we expand a previously published model describing interactions between arthropod predators and a pest population. The model assumed that interaction strengths are influenced by body size and habitat preference. In our updated model, we incorporate the effect of temperature on predator foraging activity. We parameterize the model to match empirically observed predator community composition in 10 agricultural fields and use simulations to demonstrate how temperature-dependent behaviors change the expected efficiency of the natural predator community. Then, we use an optimization approach to identify the most efficient composition of natural predators for pest control. We then evaluate whether the most efficient predator compositions would change with increasing average daily temperature and its variability, as is expected under future temperature change. We find that optimal communities often include predators with complementary foraging activity and that in 2 fields, the optimal community changes drastically under future temperatures. We also note that at some temperatures, foraging activity reduces the negative effects of intraguild interference on pest consumption. This work allows us to assess the effect of climate change on the efficiency of natural predator communities to control pest populations and provide guidance for farmers to design pest management strategies tailored to different climate scenarios.

Included in

Biology Commons