The Community Ecology of Herbivore Regulation in an Agroecosystem: Lessons from Complex Systems

John Vandermeer, Inge Armbrecht, Aldo De La Mora, Katherine K. Ennis, Gordon Fitch, David J. Gonthier, Zachary Hajian-Forooshani, Hsun Yi Hsieh, Aaron Iverson, Douglas Jackson, Shalene Jha, Estelí Jiménez-Soto, Gustavo Lopez-Bautista, Ashley Larsen, Kevin Li, Heidi Liere, Andrew MacDonald, Linda Marin, Kaitlyn A. Mathis, Ivan MonaganJonathan R. Morris, Theresa Ong, Gabriella L. Pardee, Iris Saraeny Rivera-Salinas, Chatura Vaiyda, Kimberly Williams-Guillen, Senay Yitbarek, Shinsuke Uno, Ash Zemenick, Stacy M. Philpott, Ivette Perfecto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Whether an ecological community is controlled from above or below remains a popular framework that continues generating interesting research questions and takes on especially important meaning in agroecosystems. We describe the regulation from above of three coffee herbivores, a leaf herbivore (the green coffee scale, Coccus viridis), a seed predator (the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei), and a plant pathogen (the coffee rust disease, caused by Hemelia vastatrix) by various natural enemies, emphasizing the remarkable complexity involved. We emphasize the intersection of this classical question of ecology with the burgeoning field of complex systems, including references to chaos, critical transitions, hysteresis, basin or boundary collision, and spatial self-organization, all aimed at the applied question of pest control in the coffee agroecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)974-996
Number of pages23
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Vandermeer John Armbrecht Inge de la Mora Aldo Ennis Katherine K Fitch Gordon Gonthier David J Hajian-Forooshani Zachary Hsieh Hsun-Yi Iverson Aaron Jackson Douglas Jha Shalene Jiménez-Soto Estelí Lopez-Bautista Gustavo Larsen Ashley Li Kevin Liere Heidi MacDonald Andrew Marin Linda Mathis Kaitlyn A Monagan Ivan Morris Jonathan R Ong Theresa Pardee Gabriella L Rivera-Salinas Iris Saraeny Vaiyda Chatura Williams-Guillen Kimberly Yitbarek Senay Uno Shinsuke Zemenick Ash Philpott Stacy M Perfecto Ivette Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology , University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Department of Biology, Universidad del Valle , Cali, Colombia Department of Entomology, University of California , Riverside Environmental Studies Department, University of California , Santa Cruz Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky , Lexington Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University , South Gull Lake Department of Entomology, Cornell University , Ithaca, New York QEDA Consulting, LLC, Seattle , Washington Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas , Austin Finca Irlanda, Chiapas , Mexico Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California , Santa Barbara Department of Crop Sciences, University of Goettingen , Goettingen, Germany Department of Biology, University of Seattle , Seattle, Washington Earth Research Institute, University of California , Santa Barbara Independent consultant, Chiapas and Pueblo , Mexico Department of Biology, Clark University , Worster, Massachusetts Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University , in New York, New York School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan , Ann Arbor Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College , Hanover, New Hampshire Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota , St. Paul Department of Integrative Biology, University of California , Berkeley Hosei University , Tokyo, Japan Michigan State University , East Lansing E-mail: 12 2019 01 12 2019 11 12 2019 69 12 974 996 © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. 2019 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model ( )

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Bernd Peters and Walter Peters for all their support during the long process of this work on their farm, Finca Irlanda. Much of this work was supported by the National Science Foundation-in particular, grant no. DEB1853261.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.


  • agroecosystems
  • complex systems
  • ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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