Beyond biological control: non-pest insects and their pathogens in a changing world

Roy, Helen E. ORCID:; Hails, Rosemary S.; Hesketh, Helen ORCID:; Roy, David B. ORCID:; Pell, Judith K.. 2009 Beyond biological control: non-pest insects and their pathogens in a changing world. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 2 (2). 65-72.

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Over the last few decades there have been considerable advances in the fields of insect pathology and insect conservation but the two disciplines rarely meet. The potential of entomopathogens as biological control agents of pest insects is widely recognized but information on the role of pathogens in insect population regulation, more generally, is limited. For example, the role of pathogens as natural enemies of non-pest insects, including those of conservation value, is seldom considered beyond their context as ‘non-targets’ of microbial control agents. Entomopathogens are prevalent in natural systems and should receive greater attention in life history studies. There is no doubt that viruses, bacteria and fungi are major mortality agents of insects but their significance tends to be overshadowed by the attention given to predators and parasitoids. We highlight the critical function that entomopathogens could have in insect population dynamics with particular reference fragmented habitats as illustrated by the theoretical literature. However, we emphasize that there are few empirical studies to test theoretical predictions. Furthermore, we suggest that since an increase in the incidence of disease is predicted in most environmental change scenarios, it is more important than ever to turn our attention to insect pathology when we consider insect population dynamics.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD01 Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity
CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD03 The Genetic Basis of Ecological Function > BD03.2 Ecology of host parasite interactions
CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD02 An Integrated Framework for the Sustainable Management of Biological Introductions - Alien Species and Emerging Diseases > BD02.2 Species and ecosystem vulnerability to invasions
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1752-458X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The definitive version of this article is available at
Additional Keywords: Covert virus, entomopathogen, environmental change, habitat fragmentation, non-pest insects, population dynamics
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Apr 2009 10:38 +0 (UTC)

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