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Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Arthropod Pests from the Eastern Hemisphere

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Title: Food Webs and Multiple Biotic Interactions in Plant–Herbivore Models

item GIFFART, BRUCE - Bordeaux Agro Sciences
item SFORZA, RENE - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)

Submitted to: Advances in Botanical Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2016
Publication Date: 1/24/2017
Citation: Corcket, E., Giffart, B., Sforza, R. 2017. Food Webs and Multiple Biotic Interactions in Plant–Herbivore Models. Advances in Botanical Research. 81: 111-137.

Interpretive Summary: Trophic relationships between plants and insects are not confined to biological interactions such as herbivory (i.e., direct consumption of one primary producer by a predator). In an ecological approach, many other interactions, trophic or even nontrophic, may influence plant herbivory by insects. These interactions are related to the complexity and the diversity of the fauna and flora. Plants and insects own to food webs, characterized by properties emerging from the identity of organisms and from the organisation of the links they develop with each other. These organisms can be considered as both taxonomic and functional units of biodiversity highlighting the complexity of food webs. Insects can be predated (e.g., by other arthropods or birds), parasitized and competed with for resources. Plant competition and availability of resources for primary producers may also influence the relationship between plants and their consumers. The inclusion of predation mechanisms in plant–insect interactions leads to the theory of trophic cascades that advanced our understanding of the process of herbivory by insects. Ecological theories give a framework to assess the way by which these biotic interactions may be controlled in natural systems. Trophic cascades provide also biological tools for the management of agroecosystems, especially for biological control of herbivores and the promotion of biodiversity. Biological interactions within food webs may also be nontrophic and alter plant–insect herbivory. Intraguild competition, interference, abiotic resources, microclimate and changes in animal behaviour are some of the drivers which may influence plant and insects, and thus their trophic relationships.

Technical Abstract: To fully understand plant-insect interactions, one should consider the entire biological system in which such organisms are living. It includes of course all the biotic relationships that species may develop with other organisms, as well as the abiotic components of the environment. This includes the effects that these species themselves have on their environment. In this context, we must view planteinsect interactions as basic components of an entire ecological system, controlled by particular processes whether we consider natural ecosystems or highly managed agrosystems. Whatever the eco- or agrosystem, the nature of the processes embedding the insecteplant interactions is similar. The difference lies in the number of organisms involved in the system and the complexity of those interactions. In this chapter, we aim to describe the many trophic interactions experienced by insect and plants. Concepts and examples are taken primarily from ecological studies, i.e., systems much more complex than croplands or intensively managed agrosystems. We hope that this approach will allow us to understand how an agronomic system may function in a context of high biological diversity.