Front%20page_edited.jpg

Mathematical modelling of biological control interaction 

to support agriculture and conservation

©Hans Smid, www.bugsinspace.nl

The research group is supported by The Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS) for a 5-month stay in Jerusalem, Israel, from February 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022.

Rationale and scope

Biological control programmes are still widely practiced as trial-and-error enterprises, rather than being guided by theory-driven principles. The deficiency in theory-based biological control practices is not only due to insufficient basic information. A wealth of knowledge exists on the behavioural mechanisms employed by insect natural enemies to find and exploit their hosts/prey, as well as on their population dynamics and evolutionary adaptations to their environments. Moreover, a variety of modelling approaches are available to describe these processes and to predict their long-term population-level effects. These include tools such as static and dynamic optimization, game theory, stochastic dynamic modelling, matrix models and genetic algorithms. However, theoretical and empirical knowledge are often being advanced independently, limiting the interplay between the two fields and hence the connection between theory and practice.

The study group will span the continuum between theoretical approaches (behavioural, population and community ecology) and application (biological control). The main aim will be to bridge the existing gaps between the well-developed theory of interactions between insects and their natural enemies, and the optimization of the efficacy of biological control projects in agriculture and conservation. This interdisciplinary group comprises mathematical biologists and experimentalists interested in close collaborations.