Theoretical developments are helping us to comprehend the basic parameters governing the dynamics of the interactions between generalist predators and their many pest and nonpest prey. In practice, however, inter- and intraspecific interactions between generalist predators, and between the predators and their prey, within multispecies systems under the influence of rapidly changing biotic and abiotic variables are difficult to predict. We discuss trade-offs between the relative merits of specialists and generalists that allow both to be effective, and often complementary, under different circumstances. A review of manipulative field studies showed that in ∼75% of cases, generalist predators, whether single species or species assemblages, reduced pest numbers significantly. Techniques for manipulating predator numbers to enhance pest control at different scales are discussed. We now need to find ways of disentangling the factors influencing positive and negative interactions within natural enemy communities in order to optimize beneficial synergies leading to pest control.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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