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Ecosystem Functions

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Biological Control

The interactions within biotic communities that act as restraining forces to control populations of potential pest and disease vectors. This function consists of natural and biological control mechanisms.



Regulating Functions


How does biological control contribute to ecosystem service  provision?

Biological control of the weed Mile-a-Minute through the use of natural predators.

Dung beetles breakdown and recycle wastes that attract pests and disease.

Through predation, parasitism, herbivory and other natural mechanisms, Nature has a way of controlling the balance of species without any human inputs. As well, environmental factors such as temperature, availability of water, altitude, topography and type and size of adjacent ecosystems also influence the balance of species present in an area. Table 1 below presents the magnitude biological control contributes to different ecosystem services (relative to other ecosystem functions) in SEQ.

Natural biological control provides important contributions to the delivery of many provisioning services (e.g. food products and building and fibre resources). Maintaining biological control limits the need for additional pesticide applications, ensures the continuous supply of these products and the growth and delivery of these products in good condition. Resources for cultivated products, medicines and pharmaceuticals are maintained through the influence of biological control on maintaining genetic diversity and the preservation of species with potential societal value.  

Native vegetation in catchment areas act as a biological filtering agent of water runoff destined for human use. Clearing of native vegetation or loss through pest attacks can lead to contamination of water sources (e.g. reducing water quality and increasing the need to treat water for consumptive uses) and outbreaks of pest species leading to enteric illness such as campylobacteriosis, giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis. This function can result in improved nutrient cycling and soil structure contributing to the development of productive soils. For example dung beetles play dual roles of burying and consuming dung, hence break down and recycle organic matter and reducing the potential of pests (e.g. flies) and diseases (e.g. buffalo flies which parasitise cattle and bush flies which vector both human such as eye trachoma and animal diseases). 

A reduction in vegetation can reduce aesthetic amenity. The persistence and conservation of iconic species (e.g. plant and animal species) depends on balancing growth and death rates (an over abundance of predators can lead to declines in species valued by people). Much knowledge has been gained from the study of natural and biological control mechanisms, which have become an important part of integrated pest management systems.



What is the temporal and geographic scale biological control operates at and services are delivered?



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The map to the right shows areas where the function biological control is expected to occur across SEQ. Data sets supporting the map can be found in the Quick Index. By clicking on the link below the map it will provide a more detailed view.


How do we know if we are degrading, maintaining or improving biological control in SEQ?


Because the Forest Kingfisher's diet consists of invertebrates, including beetles, bugs, spiders and grasshoppers it makes an important contribution to maintaining insect populations.

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Fundamental to maintaining this ecosystem function is conserving natural habitats, maintaining corridors, rehabilitating degraded habitat, and if necessary reintroducing locally extinct species.

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How do we manage this ecosystem function in SEQ?


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