Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps

Brock, Ryan E, Cini, Alessandro and Sumner, Seirian (2021) Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps. Biological Reviews. ISSN 1464-7931

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Abstract

The aculeate wasps are one of the most diverse and speciose insect taxa; they are omnipresent across ecosystems and exhibit diverse co-evolutionary and exploitative associations with other organisms. There is widespread conjecture that aculeate wasps are likely to perform essential ecological and economic services of importance to the health, well-being and nutritional needs of our planet. However, the scope and nature of the ecosystem services they provide are not well understood relative to other insect groups (e.g. bees, butterflies, beetles), and appreciation of their value is further tarnished by their public reputation as pointless pests. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive review of how aculeate wasps contribute to the four main areas of ecosystem services: regulatory, provisioning, supporting and cultural services. Uniting data from a large but previously disconnected literature on solitary and social aculeate wasps, we provide a synthesis on how these insects perform important ecosystem services as parasitoids, predators, biological indicators, pollinators, decomposers and seed dispersers; and their additional services as a sustainable alternative to meat for human consumption, and medicinal potential as sources of research leads for anti-microbials and cancer treatments. We highlight how aculeate wasps offer substantial, but largely overlooked, economic benefits through their roles in natural pest management and biological control programs. Accordingly, we provide data-driven arguments for reasons to consider the ecosystem service value of aculeate wasps on a par with other ‘useful’ insects (e.g. bees). Finally, we provide a research roadmap identifying the key areas of research required to capitalise better on the services provided by these important insects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: stinging wasps,economic value,biological control,predation,pollination
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2021 23:48
Last Modified: 11 May 2021 00:13
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79644
DOI: 10.1111/brv.12719

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