Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 619393, 15 pages
Research Article

Evaluating the Structure of Enemy Biodiversity Effects on Prey Informs Pest Management

1Corso Vittorio Emanuele II No. 50, 09124 Cagliari, Italy
2Dipartimento per la Ricerca nelle Produzioni Vegetali (DIRVE), Agris Sardegna, Viale Trieste No. 111, 09123 Cagliari, Italy

Received 29 May 2013; Accepted 5 August 2013

Academic Editors: T. J. DeWitt and S. N. Francoeur

Copyright © 2013 Paolo Casula and Mauro Nannini. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Evaluating the structure of enemy biodiversity effects on prey in agroecosystems can provide insights into biological pest control functioning. With this aim, theoretical models that describe biological mechanisms underlying prey suppression can be developed and confronted with experimental data by means of model selection. Here, we confront multiplicative risk models to evaluate the structure of multiple predator effects on the whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum provided in tomatoes by two spiders (Oxyopes lineatus and Pityohyphantes phrygianus) and two mirids (Nesidiocoris tenuis and Macrolophus melanotoma). Biologically meaningful parameters retained in the best models showed that several predator traits differently affected pest control: species-specific per capita predation rates, prey use extent, different type of interactions between predators, and the response of predator species to prey density and environmental temperature. Even from a limited perspective of single-pest control and short term experiment, this study suggests that assembly of the four predator species results in predator complementarity across prey life stages and density, interactions of prey and predators with environmental conditions, and interactions between predators that do not result in whitefly control disruption. Such information about enemy biodiversity and whitefly control functioning can drive hypotheses about sustainable pest management options in local agroecosystems.