Agroecology pp 30-46 | Cite as

An Evaluation of Ants as Possible Candidates for Biological Control in Tropical Annual Agroecosystems

  • C. Ronald Carroll
  • Stephen Risch
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 78)


Past researchers have usually regarded the search for candidates for pest control programs as a biological problem. But pest control is essentially a social and economic problem that uses biological technology (Reichelderfer, 1981). From a farmer’s perspective, the evaluation of a pest management program includes much more than the effect the introduction of a beneficial insect might contribute toward lowering pest losses below economic thresholds. Farmers are concerned with how the particular program will place restrictions on time and alternative farming practices, and thus affect opportunity costs. Pest control programs may affect production costs by decreasing opportunistic use of chemical controls and by influencing the temporal variability of yields. Thus, the biological characteristics of control agents become coupled with a farm’s social and economic characteristics. For example, in a situation where pest diversity is high and individual population size variable, the introduction of a specialized predator may strongly influence the population size of one pest species. Several outcomes are possible. If competitive interactions exist among the pest species, then the elimination of one species causes compensatory competitive release among the others, but the numerical response may not be linear. Even if competition does not occur among the pest species, the elimination of one pest species may cause a change in the population size of the other species.


Biological Control Biological Control Agent Integrate Pest Management Pest Species Tropical Ecosystem 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

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  • C. Ronald Carroll
  • Stephen Risch

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