Chapter 5 Ground Control

This chapter describes how disease and pest control is sometimes enhanced by different elements in the natural world.

Pages 131-136. For the research that underpins the section on Indian vultures, see: Markandya, A. Taylor, T. Longo, A. Murty, MN. – Murty, S. – Dhavala, KK. (2008). Counting the Cost of Vulture Decline – An Appraisal of the Human Health and other Benefits of Vultures in India. Ecological Economics, 67, 194–204. For direct access to this paper, go to: A free summary of this work can be found at:

Page 134. I mention SAVE, and organization working to restore vulture populations in India. You can find out more about their work via their website:

Page 136. For more on how Lyme disease infections in people is affected by mammal density see: LoGiudice, K. Ostfeld, RS. Schmidt, KA. and Keesing, F. (2003). The ecology of infectious disease: Effects of host diversity and community composition on Lyme disease risk. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100(2): 567–571. This paper can be found at:

Page 137-138. The work looking at how bird diversity could be a factor in limiting the spread of West Nile Virus to humans, see: Swaddle, JP. Calos, SE. (2008). Increased Avian Diversity Is Associated with Lower Incidence of Human West Nile Infection: Observation of the Dilution Effect. PLoS ONE 3(6): e2488. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002488. For direct access to this paper go to:

Pages 138-140. For the work that estimated the beneficial effects of great tits predating pests in a Dutch orchard, see: Mols, CM, Visser, ME. (2007). Great Tits (Parus major) Reduce Caterpillar Damage in Commercial Apple Orchards. PLoS ONE 2(2): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000202 For direct access to this paper on line, go to:

Pages 140-141. On the control of insect pests in Jamaican coffee plantations, see: Johnson, MD. Kellermann, JL. and Stercho, AM. (2009) Pest reduction services by birds in shade and sun coffee in Jamaica. Animal Conservation. Vol. 13. 140–147. This paper can be found on-line at:

Pages 142-143. I write about the beneficial impacts on evening grosbeaks in forestry plantations where they control budworms. The paper behind this part of the book is: Takekawa, J. Y., and E. O. Garton. 1984. How much is an evening grosbeak worth? J. Forestry 82(7):426-427. This paper can be found on-line at:

Page 145. For a source how beetles control pear sucker pests see this:

Page 147. On biological control of crop pests, I talk about a few examples, including that of the alfalfa weevil. Background on this subject can be found at: 

Pages 148-149. When it comes to Mao’s war on pests and how this might have contributed to worse famine, there are quite a few sources. For example see: Whelan, CJ. et. al., (2008). Ecosystem Services Provided by Birds, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1134: 25—60. “Whelan remarks that “Although information is only anecdotal, apparently the ’war against the sparrows,’ part of a pest-control campaign launched in China during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, led to massive increases in pest insects and, thus, crop damage, ultimately contributing to a catastrophic famine from 1958—1962 in which 30 million Chinese died from starvation.” This source can be found on-line at: