, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp 2025-2047

Effects of Predator and Prey Dispersal on Success or Failure of Biological Control

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Biological control, defined as the reduction of pest populations by natural enemies, is often a component of integrated pest management strategies. Augmentation of natural enemy numbers by planned releases is a common biological control method, the successes and failures of which have been extensively reviewed. The effectiveness of biological control is influenced by how populations of predators and prey (or hosts and parasitoids) disperse in patchy environments. Here, we address the question of whether such dispersal leads to beneficial or detrimental pest control outcomes by developing a simple predator-prey model with constant releases of natural enemies in a two-patch environment. Theoretical and numerical results for all possible cases indicate that population dispersal has significant effects on the persistence of pests. For some ranges of dispersal rates or parameter space, dispersal is beneficial for pest control measures but this is not so for other ranges when it is detrimental. Therefore, knowledge of pest and natural enemy dispersal is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of biological control in a patchy environment. Finally, the model is generalised for multi-patch systems.