Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: May 25, 2009
Publication Date: May 30, 2009
Citation: Weber, D., and Lundgren, J. 2009. Assessing the trophic ecology of the coccinellidae: their roles as predators and as prey. Biological Control. 51: 199-214. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2009.05.013.
Coccinellidae function in complex food webs, as predators, as consumers of non-prey foods, and as prey or hosts of natural enemies. Dietary breadth, both for the family and for the individual beetle, remains largely to be explored and appreciated. Likewise the nature and implications of interactions with other predators in the field, are not well understood. The advent of biochemical tools based on nucleic acids, proteins, sugars and other components of coccinellid diets, expands our understanding of their trophic ecology -- but only when informed by, and applied to, field conditions where coccinellids live, forage, reproduce, and consume pests, other arthropods including intraguild prey, pollen, fungi, nectars, and other foods. We review the various methods which have been applied to the study of trophic relationships involving the Coccinellidae, their advantages and disadvantages, and some salient innovations and results to arise both from low and from high technology and their combinations. Intraguild predation, reviewed here in detail, has the potential to reduce the efficacy of coccinellids as biological control agents, but only careful study of field interactions will clarify the magnitude and significance of this phenomenon for various systems. Intraguild predation, and the increasing apparently breadth of prey and non-prey foods of the Coccinellidae, are essential to the understanding of this group, and to appropriate management approaches for sustainable systems involving coccinellids in biological control.