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A growing body of literature points to a large-scale research approach as essential for understanding population and community ecology. Many of our advances regarding the spatial ecology of predators and prey can be attributed to research with insect parasitoids and their hosts. In this review, we focus on the progress that has been made in the study of the movement and population dynamics of hosts and their parasitoids in heterogeneous landscapes, and how this research approach may be beneficial to pest management programs. To date, few studies have quantified prey and predator rates and ranges of dispersal and population dynamics at the patch level-the minimum of information needed to characterize population structure. From host-parasitoid studies with sufficient data, it is clear that the spatial scale of dispersal can differ significantly between a prey and its predators, local prey extinctions can be attributed to predators and predator extinction risk at the patch level often exceeds that of the prey. It is also evident that populations can be organized as a single, highly connected (patchy) population or as semi-independent extinction-prone local populations that collectively form a persistent metapopulation. A prey and its predators can also differ in population structure. At the landscape level, agricultural studies indicate that predator effects on its prey often spill over between the crop and surrounding area (matrix) and can depend strongly on landscape structure (e.g. the proportion of suitable habitat) at scales extending well beyond the crop margins. In light of existing empirical data, predator-prey models are typically spatially unrealistic, lacking important details on boundary responses and movement behaviour within and among patches. The tools exist for conducting empirical and theoretical research at the landscape level and we hope that this review calls attention to fertile areas for future exploration. © 2005 The Royal Society.

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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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