A knowledge-based approach to pest management requires an understanding of these factors, communities, and trophic levels—i.e., the interactions among organisms within the managed ecosystem. To predict an outcome of these interactions requires knowledge of
vulnerable stages in organismal life cycles,
factors influencing both pest and biological-control organism reproduction,
disease vectors, especially vectors of viruses, and
molecular signals governing pest and biological-control organism interactions.
It may not always be possible to find ''natural" tools and tactics to control pests, neither will "natural" approaches always be the most ecologically sound. Many natural products are toxic to a broad spectrum of beneficial organisms and to humans; such products include neem, a pesticide extracted from the neem tree, and pyrethrum, an insecticide found in dried flowers of several Old World chrysanthemums. These natural compounds need replacement as much as do broad-spectrum synthetic chemicals. Because durability is an important goal of EBPM, organisms and chemicals that are specifically targeted to affect pest species but relatively benign to all other organisms must become the dominant management tools used in agricultural and forest systems of the future.
A national research agenda, both general and cross-cutting, should identify broad areas of ecological research that promise to yield the critical information needed to accelerate progress in EBPM. The eight broad categories of research priorities identified by the committee can be used as a guide to the process of understanding how this complex, evolving system can be managed to reduce pests. These areas should receive priority for funding:
research on the ecology of managed ecosystems;
research on behavioral, physiological, and molecular mechanisms to effect EBPM;
research to identify and conserve natural resources necessary for EBPM;
development of better research and diagnostic techniques;
development of ecologically based crop protection strategies;
research on implementation and evaluation of EBPM;
research to improve understanding of the socioeconomic issues affecting adoption of EBPM; and
development of new institutional approaches to encourage the necessary interdisciplinary cooperation.