Feedback control systems for pest management in multispecies communities

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

Main Supervisor: Dr Markus Mueller (Environment and Sustainability Institute and Mathematics, University of Exeter)

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+DTP). The GW4+DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus six Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see

Controlling pests is as old as agriculture: to maximise harvest it is necessary to reduce pest numbers to acceptable levels. Chemical pesticides are to date the main management option against pests, however in the face of their potentially detrimental long-term effects on the environment and human health, biological pest control has seen renewed interest. In particular in greenhouses a wide range of biocontrol agents (from ladybirds to parasitoid wasps) may have a large potential as alternative or additional options in pest management.

  1. E. Bairey, E. D. Kelsic, and R. Kishony, High-order species interactions shape ecosystem diversity. Nat. Commun. 7:12285 (2016).
  2. C. Guiver, C. Edholm, Y. Jin, M. Mueller, J. Powell, R. Rebarber, B. Tenhumberg, and S. Townley, Simple adaptive control for positive linear systems with applications to pest management. SIAM J. Appl. Math. 76, 238-275 (2016).
  3. K.  Shea and H. P.  Possingham, Optimal release strategies for biological control agents: an application of stochastic dynamic programming to population management. J. Appl. Ecol. 37, 77-86 (2000).
  4. C. Martorell and R. P. J. Freckleton, Testing the roles of competition, facilitation and stochasticity on community structure in a species-rich year assemblage. J. Ecol. 102, 74-85 (2014).

Please see for full information regarding applications.

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South West England