Linking risk and efficacy in biological control host-parasitoid models

Joe M. Kaser, George E. Heimpel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Exotic invasive arthropods present an increasing threat to native species, ecosystem function, crop production, forests, and other natural resources. Importation ('classical') biological control can be a cost-effective tactic for long-term pest management that reduces insecticide use. However, while importation of biological control agents has great potential benefits, it also entails risks to non-target native species. Therefore, candidate biological control agents are studied prior to release to predict safety. Little is known, however, about how traits affecting the safety of biological control agents may impact their efficacy in terms of reducing pest populations. We use a difference equation model to simulate a one-parasitoid two-host system and evaluate conditions under which biological control safety and efficacy interact. We vary the search efficiency and resistance to parasitism of both host species and interpret the results from the standpoint that one host is a target pest and the other a non-target species. We find that apparent competition can have important benefits for increasing biological control efficacy, even at low levels of non-target impact. However, under conditions of parasitoid egg limitation, high attack rates on resistant non-target hosts can dramatically decrease biological control efficacy while concurrently increasing non-target risk. These findings are discussed in the context of biological control agent pre-release risk-benefit assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Control
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Apparent competition
  • Classical biological control
  • Ecological risk analysis
  • Egg limitation
  • Indirect effects
  • Parasitoid


Dive into the research topics of 'Linking risk and efficacy in biological control host-parasitoid models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this