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Biomonitoring of biocontrol across the full annual cycle in temperate climates: Post-harvest, winter and early-season interaction data and methodological considerations for its collection

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jordan CuffORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Conservation biocontrol, the regulation of crop pests by naturally-occurring biocontrol agents (e.g., predators and parasitoids), is predominantly monitored throughout periods of primary crop growth when pests exert the most observable impact on yields. Pest-focused agricultural biomonitoring often overlooks post-harvest, winter and even early-season biocontrol, despite the significant predator-pest interactions during these periods that profoundly affect pest abundance and, consequently, crop yields. Rapid advances in biomonitoring, particularly in the detection of predator-pest interactions that underpin biocontrol, provide an opportunity to reconsider how and when we monitor these interactions. Advances in agricultural biomonitoring must transcend methodological innovation and encompass conceptual changes in monitoring of agricultural systems. Here, we assess existing evidence supporting the importance of periods beyond primary crop growth for biocontrol, and how predator-pest interactions are likely to evolve during these periods, subsequently influencing pest population dynamics during the primary crop growth period. We advocate for a greater concerted effort to establish continuous monitoring of biocontrol interactions, particularly beyond primary crop growth periods in temperate climates. To facilitate this, we also summarise the methodological approaches that can make it possible, and explore how extending sampling across the full annual cycle might impact the practicalities and outcomes of these approaches. Year-round monitoring of biocontrol interactions, both in crops and adjacent semi-natural habitats, will provide a previously intractable understanding of predator-pest dynamics, offering significant potential to enhance our ability to optimise and manipulate these systems. This would manifest in reduced crop yield losses, pest infestation rates and disease transmission, with concomitant long-term financial, environmental and land-use benefits.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cuff JP, Gajski D, Michalko R, Košulič O, Pekár S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Agricultural and Forest Entomology

Year: 2024

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 05/06/2024

Acceptance date: 22/05/2024

Date deposited: 22/05/2024

ISSN (print): 1461-9555

ISSN (electronic): 1461-9563

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/afe.12635


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