Strengthening the ties that bind: An evaluation of cross-disciplinary communication between invasion ecologists and biological control cesearchers in entomology
To control non-native species, resource managers may import and introduce biocontrol agents. Like accidentally introduced insects, biocontrol agents must overcome several abiotic and biotic obstacles to establish successfully. They can also have varying efficacy and negative or positive impacts on native species and ecosystems. Given the similarities between accidentally introduced insects and biocontrol agents, researchers studying these organisms can more effectively communicate and actively link data to improve overall understanding and management of non-native species within the framework(s) of invasion theory. To assess interdisciplinarity between invasion ecologists and biocontrol practitioners that study insects in forests, we identified 102 invasion ecology and 90 biocontrol articles published from 2006 to 2018. These articles helped us determine which broad disciplines (invasion ecology, biocontrol, other control, other ecological, and nonecological) and publication formats (e.g., journals and books) the authors cited most. We found 1) invasion ecologists primarily cite other invasion ecology research; 2) biocontrol researchers cite biocontrol and invasion ecology research; 3) both disciplines primarily cited peer-reviewed journal articles; and 4) there was 65–70% overlap in the top 20 journals cited in primary invasion ecology and biocontrol literature. Though we found some cross-communication, it is currently mostly unidirectional, whereby invasion ecology informs biocontrol. We identify and discuss three areas—1) ecological principles governing success or failure of introduced species, 2) the invasion process, and 3) negative impacts on native species—for which the disciplines possess substantial overlap to demonstrate that biocontrol agents can provide invasion ecologists with an unconventional model to study the mechanisms of species invasion.