Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 943–955 | Cite as

Understanding plant–arthropod interactions in multitrophic communities to improve conservation biological control: useful traits and metrics

  • Antoine Gardarin
  • Manuel Plantegenest
  • Armin Bischoff
  • Muriel Valantin-Morison


The role of biodiversity in the delivery of ecosystem services is increasingly being studied by trait-based functional approaches. Here, we review and discuss the contribution of a trait-based approach to understanding plant–arthropod interactions and improving conservation biological control. The stable biological control of multispecies herbivore communities requires functional diversity and a redundancy of natural enemies, including specialists and generalists, with minimal antagonistic interactions. The management of arthropod communities through plant community requires the plant community to perform several functions, including the provision of diversified trophic resources and appropriate physical habitats. Many studies have investigated the ability of plants to provide these functions, but many of the results obtained were limited to single species. The description of communities in terms of traits underlying trophic and non-trophic interactions between plants and animals would make it possible to extrapolate findings to other species. Studies on plant–herbivore and plant–pollinator interactions have identified several traits as important for trophic resource provision, in terms of resource quantity, accessibility, quality and temporal availability. By contrast, traits relating to physical habitat provision and microclimate modification have been little explored. Several metrics describing the functional composition and diversity of communities have been proposed, to extend the trait-based approach to plant community level, but the extent to which multitrophic communities are affected by plant traits remains largely unexplored. The next step will be to identify the combinations of these plant community metrics best explaining their impact on arthropod communities and disentangling the roles of plant functional composition and diversity.


Entomophagous arthropods Flower strip Functional diversity Functional trait Interaction trait Natural enemy 



This work was partly supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche PEERLESS project (ANR-12-AGRO-0006). We thank the reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

10340_2018_958_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (526 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 525 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoine Gardarin
    • 1
  • Manuel Plantegenest
    • 2
  • Armin Bischoff
    • 3
  • Muriel Valantin-Morison
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR Agronomie, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-SaclayThiverval-GrignonFrance
  2. 2.UMR1349 IGEPPRennes CedexFrance
  3. 3.UMR Mediterranean, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), Aix-Marseille University-CNRS, IRD-University of Avignon, IUT AgroparcAvignonFrance

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