Ecosystem services are key to human survival. In agriculture, they offer potential to intensify production while reducing reliance on hazardous inputs, including pesticides. Nectar plants can nourish natural enemies of pests and thereby promote the ecosystem service of biological control. To date, however, the selection of optimal plants has been reliant on laborious testing of multiple candidate species for use in each new agroecosystem. We report a hybrid meta-analysis of published literature, employing Bayesian network analysis.RESULTS
The hybrid meta-analysis identified the particular plant and parasitoid traits that were most predictive of promoted or suppressed parasitoid longevity. Integrating trait effects identified a combination of plant-parasitoid traits that had the highest impact on parasitoid longevity: compound umbel or raceme inflorescence form and shallow corolla, together with high potential fecundity of the parasitoid.CONCLUSION
Unlike earlier analyses focusing on taxonomic categories, we analyzed effect sizes in relation to the ecological traits of parasitoids and plants. This generated the first generalizable guidelines for selecting nectar plants as well as appropriate parasitoid targets for the enhancement of biological control. Within the guidelines, optimal outcomes resulted when plants with compound umbel or raceme inflorescences and shallow corollas were combined with fecund parasitoids. More widely, this type of ecological trait-based meta-analysis opens a new avenue for optimizing the delivery of other types of ecosystem services. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.