Considering the Geographic Diversity of Natural Enemy Traits in Biological Control: A Quantitative Approach Using Orius Predators as an Example

Tarryn Schuldiner-Harpaz, Moshe Coll*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The desirable characteristics of effective natural enemies and the causes for failure of biological control efforts have been discussed extensively in the literature, yet predicting which collection site may yield efficient natural enemies remains a challenge. Insect characteristics, such as morphology, physiology, life history and behavior, often vary across geographic cline and location. These variations may reflect phenotypic plasticity across environments, or genetically based local (demic) adaptation. Parameters such as body size, photoperiod response, thermal tolerance and genetic diversity may greatly influence the outcome of biological control efforts. Therefore, geographic variation in such characteristics may be used to optimize the collection site of efficient enemies to be employed in biological control programs. The first step towards this goal is compilation of data on the trait diversity of promising natural enemies across their geographic distribution range. For example, we used published information to compile a database on the geographic distribution of various traits of 92 Orius species (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae), a genus known for its potential contribution to biological control in IPM systems. We discuss how the widespread distribution of this genus in different ecozones should enable the collection of species and populations that differ in various geographically dependent traits relevant to biological control. Finally, we suggest a quantitative method to optimize collection efforts of natural enemies. This approach balances the effects of several natural enemy traits that vary geographically. Lastly, we demonstrate the use of this method by evaluating the potential employment of two geographically distinct populations of O. albidipennis.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number963
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • augmentative biocontrol
  • biocontrol exploration
  • classical biocontrol
  • trait diversity
  • zoogeography


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