Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Predation: The Role of Generalist Predators in Biodiversity and Biological Control

  • Lawrence E. Hurd
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3112

The term “generalist predator” is nearly redundant. The diets of the vast majority of predators are far less specialized than many herbivore-plant associations in which, for example, the life cycle of a phloem-feeding treehopper (Hemiptera: Membracidae) in the temperate zone may be completely dependent on the seasonal phenology of a single species of tree. Although some groups such as ladybird beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are relatively specialized on a few related prey species (in this case, mainly aphids or scale insects), the vast majority of predators feed on varied prey. A far more typical group of coleopteran predators, beetles in the family Carabidae, will take nearly anything that moves within a size range they can physically handle, regardless of taxonomic position. Thus, the most important factor determining the niche (ecological role) of insect predators undoubtedly is breadth of diet.

The Niche of Generalist Predators

Predatory insects are fewer in number than...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence E. Hurd
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA