Submitted to: Current Opinion in Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/7/2017
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Guedes, R.C., Walse, S.S., Throne, J.E. 2017. Sublethal exposure, insecticide resistance, and community stress. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 21:47-53. doi:10.1016/j.cois.2017.04.010.
Interpretive Summary: The current widespread use of insecticides, in addition to other anthropogenic compounds, allows for a complex landscape where the presence of such compounds in sublethal levels are prevalent. However, the impact imposed by this sublethal exposure is frequently neglected, particularly within the context of insecticide resistance and arthropod community stress. The prevailing negative perception of insects in human society and use of insecticides as killing agents arguably contribute to the insecticide debate and research biased towards oversimplified lethal assessments and short-term studies focusing on individual organisms and populations of arthropod pest species, some of their natural enemies, and the honeybee. The issue is further aggravated by the inherent conflict of interest that exists in insecticide research, where the agrochemical companies are the main research sponsors, and the user-oriented focus favors short-term efficacy studies and immediate localized (and suspected) impacts with direct influence on pest control or yield production. This scenario neglects the prevalence of sublethal exposure in nature, and the complex environmental context in which this exposure takes place with a myriad of co-occurring species and biologically active chemicals. An overhaul of the current methods and approaches used in insecticide research should be considered exploring a more holistic and comprehensive theoretical framework.
Technical Abstract: Although a prevalent pest management tool and anthropogenic stressors of widespread occurrence, insecticides are subject to biased perceptions and research demands largely guided by their use, market value, and regulatory requirements. As a result, short-term and simplistic efforts focusing on lethal effects on individual species and populations prevail. Holistic and comprehensive studies exploring the rather common sublethal insecticide exposure are rare, particularly considering their potential role in structuring populations and communities in diverse environmental settings and potentially interfering in a range of ecological interactions. Studies on insecticide resistance, for example, do not go beyond population-based studies disregarding temporal and spatial effects in the associated community, and rarely considering the whole of sublethal exposure. Some of these knowledge gaps are here recognized and explored.