Island and mountain ecosystems as testbeds for biological control in the Anthropocene

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Dec, 2022

Wyckhuys, K.A.G., Sanchez Garcia, F.J., Santos, A.M.C., Canal, N.A., Furlong, M.J., Melo, M.C., GC, Y.D. & Pozsgai, G. (2022) Island and mountain ecosystems as testbeds for biological control in the Anthropocene.

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10, 912628. DOI:10.3389/fevo.2022.912628 (IF2022 3,0; Q2 Ecology)

For centuries, islands and mountains have incited the interest of naturalists, evolutionary biologists and ecologists. Islands have been the cradle for biogeography and speciation theories, while mountain ranges have informed how population adaptation to thermal floors shapes the distribution of species globally. Islands of varying size and mountains’ altitudinal ranges constitute unique “natural laboratories” where one can investigate the effects of species loss or global warming on ecosystem service delivery. Although invertebrate pollination or seed dispersal processes are steadily being examined, biological control research is lagging. While observations of a wider niche breadth among insect pollinators in small (i.e., species-poor) islands or at high (i.e., colder) altitudes likely also hold for biological control agents, such remains to be examined. In this Perspective piece, we draw on published datasets to show that island size alone does not explain biological control outcomes. Instead, one needs to account for species’ functional traits, habitat heterogeneity, host community make-up, phenology, site history or even anthropogenic forces. Meanwhile, data from mountain ranges show how parasitism rates of Noctuid moths and Tephritid fruit flies exhibit species- and context-dependent shifts with altitude. Nevertheless, future empirical work in mountain settings could clarify the thermal niche space of individual natural enemy taxa and overall thermal resilience of biological control. We further discuss how global databases can be screened, while ecological theories can be tested, and simulation models defined based upon observational or manipulative assays in either system. Doing so can yield unprecedented insights into the fate of biological control in the Anthropocene and inform ways to reinforce this vital ecosystem service under global environmental change scenarios.


  • Island and mountain ecosystems as testbeds for biological control in the Anthropocene Gabor Pozsgai Island Biodiversity, Biogeography & Conservation - IBBC