My research is focused around biodiversity conservation, with special emphasis on plants in grassland habitats, and how to combine management of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation with sustainable food production in agricultural landscapes. I primarily work with questions associated to landscape ecology and to processes occurring at large temporal and spatial scales, such as land use changes and effects of climate change. Several of my studies are made in transdisciplinary collaboration with scientists from other disciplines, e.g., economists, social scientists.
Multifunctionality in managed grassland systems - Biodiversity and ecosystem service
Grassland systems have been in focus for a long time due to their ecological, socioeconomic and cultural importance. If moderately managed, these grasslands increase the multifunctionality of the rural landscapes by harbouring extraordinary high biodiversity and by providing numerous ecosystem services like meat production, carbon sequestration, and different cultural values. Grasslands are currently undergoing an extensive land use change world vide, in particular transformation as a consequence agricultural intensification, urbanisation, and land abandonment. In this project we present a comprehensive overview of what ecosystem services are generated in different types of grassland and if different services show trade-offs or synergies with each other and with biodiversity conservation. During our stay at STIAS we synthesized parts of our previous work, together with the other scientific literature, in a joint publication addressing biodiversity and ecosystem service generation in grasslands.
Study area: N Europe and Southern Africa
Financing: Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), South Africa
Collaboration: Swedish Agriculture University, SLU, and Lund University
Woody or treeless pastures? Linking subsidy systems, farmers decisions and management for understanding biodiversity patterns
The definitions of forest and pasture are still debated both within Sweden and Europe, and the delimitation between them is not clarified, severely affecting Swedish farmers relying on EU subsidies for management of semi-natural pastures, as a part of the goals for both cultural heritage and promoting the high biodiversity in these habitats. Although semi-natural pastures are well studied we still do not know the effect on species (i.e. how many and what kinds of species that are lost) when excluding pastures with more than 60 trees per ha from the subsidy system. In this study we clarify what grassland species that are favoured/unfavoured by tree cover of different amount, identify thresholds and link that to pasture management. With this targeted design this project are able to directly evaluate the effects of current subsidy system on plant diversity as well as increase the general understanding of management effects in woody pastures. By studying how the subsidy system influence the decision making among land owners and managers, the results can be linked to management, important when formulating new policy for management of semi-natural pastures.
Study area: Biosphere area Östra Vätternbranterna, Sweden
Financing: Swedish Research Council for Environment,Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS)
Collaboration: Gothenburg University
Habitat restoration in fragmented landscapes: effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functions
In this project we investigate how species community reassembly and reconstruction of ecosystem functioning following habitat restoration are linked to the structure of the surrounding landscape. We focus on plant and insect communities, and on pollination which is an important ecosystem function provided by the insects. We compare the community reassembly patterns to our current information on the order of disassembly after habitat loss and fragmentation, and assess if the species traits that predict re-colonization success are the same that predict extinction risk. This project will contribute to our general understanding of colonization and extinction processes in fragmented and restored landscapes.www2.ekol.slu.se/restore
Study area: South Eastern Sweden
Financing: Swedish Research Council for Environment,Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS)
Collaboration: Swedish Agriculture University, SLU, Ulltuna
Ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes: the development of a framework for assessing synergies and dealing with trade-offs among multiple services
The aim of this project is to develop a conceptual framework and new empirical methods for ‘rapid and systematic assessments’ of connections among multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. The core hypothesis is that different services are interlinked or ‘bundled’ together, and therefore co-vary as one service (in this case e.g. food or bio-fuels) increases. We also want to investigate if there are distinct bundles that change with altered land uses, spatial scales and management practices, and if so, whether this change is smooth, or abrupt and non-linear. We will focus on two agricultural landscapes, one in Sweden and one in South Africa, where we have substantial previous field experience and are well connected to researchers, actors and policy makers.
Study area: Sweden and South Africa
Financing: Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS)
Collaboration: Stockholm Resilience centre and UKZN South Africa
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Facing the future for grassland restoration – What about the farmers?
2018. Emelie Waldén, Regina Lindborg. Journal of Environmental Management 227, 305-312Article
In line with the 2010 Aichi Convention for Biological Diversity, the European Union has a goal to restore 15% of degraded ecosystems and their services by the year 2020 (target 2, Europe 2020). This includes restoration of semi-natural grasslands (SNGs). Management of both intact and restored SNGs is dependent on people's willingness to manage them. Due to low profitability, management abandonment still occurs all over Europe, which highlights the need to raise farmers' and landowners' perspectives. In this study, we combined survey data and in-depth interviews with farmers/landowners managing previously restored SNGs, to understand how they perceive the restoration process, the outcome and future management. Survey and interview data were analysed in relation to biodiversity and Agri-environmental payments data from the restored sites. Almost all respondents considered the restoration successful and the re-inventoried restored SNGs also showed an increase in plant diversity. Nevertheless, 10% of the restored SNGs were abandoned again post-restoration and 40% of the respondents were unsure if they would continue the management in the future. Abandoned management may cause a negative trend in terms of decreased biological, cultural and aesthetic values, in the local community, as well as for the society in general. Most respondents explained a strong dependency on Agri-environmental payments, both as a restoration incentive and for post-restoration management. Also non-financial support from authorities in form of feedback and advice was requested, as well as support from the local community and society as a whole. Future management in a longer time perspective was strongly coupled to the farm economy, i.e. received Agri-environmental payments at farm-level and profit from selling agricultural products, and whether the farmers had successors. We conclude that both social and ecological factors, here farm economy, authority support and proper management, must be in place for long-term success of grassland restoration.
Landscape heterogeneity correlates with recreational values
2018. Thomas Hahn, Malena Heinrup, Regina Lindborg. Landscape research 43 (5), 696-707Article
Agri-environmental schemes are often targeted at heterogenic landscapes to support several ecosystem services besides food production. The question is whether heterogenic landscapes also support recreation values. Previous studies suggest this but statistical analysis of the relation between heterogeneity and recreation is lacking. To assess this, we used a quantitative Landscape Heterogeneity Index (LHI), developed for biodiversity conservation. We asked five different user groups to score 12 photographs of landscapes depicting different LHI. All user groups, especially conservationists and hunters, preferred the heterogeneous landscapes and this difference was statistically significant for all groups except farmers. Accessibility, in terms of roads, had no obvious impact on the recreational value conveyed by the photos. The paper provides evidence that the recreational value amplifies biodiversity-based values of heterogeneous landscapes and argues that such landscapes also provide resilience and insurance value buffering against unexpected risks. Implications for policy are discussed.
Recreational value was positively correlated to landscape heterogeneity.
This correlation was statistically significant for all user groups except farmers.
Accessibility, in terms of roads, had no obvious impact on the recreational value.
The multi-functionality of heterogeneous agricultural landscapes including resilience and the insurance value should be better acknowledged in policy.
Local conditions in small habitats and surrounding landscape are important for pollination services, biological pest control and seed predation
2018. Jessica Lindgren, Regina Lindborg, Sara A. O. Cousins. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 251, 107-113Article
Small semi-natural and natural habitats in agricultural landscapes are important for biodiversity. With modern and more intensive agricultural practices they have become smaller (less than 1600 m2) and more isolated study which also affects ecosystem functions. Most ecosystem function studies using field experiments focus on a single function. Here, we investigate three functions in the same landscape at the same time. We investigated how local (trees, shrubs and grass-cover in small remnant habitats) and landscape factors (amount of and distance from key habitats i.e. forest and semi-natural grasslands) affect pollination, biological pest control and seed predation. We applied a multifunctional approach using different organisms to analyze pollination success (Primula veris), predation on aphid pests (Rhopalosiphum padi) and seed predation (of Helianthus annuus). A set-up of 3 different experiments were placed in situ on 12 midfield islets. Pollination was more affected by local factors than landscape factors, although pollination success was improved by a smaller proportions of surrounding crop fields. Seed predation was higher on islets with more surrounding forest and also with more trees on the habitat, especially close to shrubs, compared to more open areas of habitat. Predation on aphids decreased on midfield islets with a larger amount of nearby forest but was positively affected by increasing local tree cover on the habitat.
We show that managing semi-open habitats that are connected to other natural or semi-natural habitats can improve pollination success and biological pest and weed control, thus potentially increasing yield in surrounding crop fields.
Relationships between multiple biodiversity components and ecosystem services along a landscape complexity gradient
2018. Klaus Birkhofer (et al.). Biological Conservation 218, 247-253Article
The assessment of effects of anthropogenic disturbance on biodiversity (BD) and ecosystem services (ES) and their relationships are key priorities of the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Agricultural landscapes and their associated BD provide multiple ES and it is crucial to understand how relationships between ES and BD components change along gradients of landscape complexity. In this study, we related eight ES potentials to the species richness of five invertebrate, vertebrate and plant taxonomic groups in cereal farming systems. The landscape complexity gradient ranged from areas dominated by annually tilled arable land to areas with high proportions of unfertilized, non-rotational pastures and uncultivated field borders. We show that after accounting for landscape complexity relationships between yield and bird richness or biological control became more positive, but relationships between bird richness and biological control became less positive. The relationship between bird and plant richness turned from positive to negative. Multidiversity (overall biodiversity), was positively related to landscape complexity, whereas multifunctionality (overall ES provision), was not significantly related to either one of these. Our results suggest that multidiversity can be promoted by increasing landscape complexity; however; we found no support for a simultaneous increase of several individual ES, BD components or multifunctionality. These results challenge the assumption that bio-diversity-friendly landscape management will always simultaneously promote multiple ES in agricultural landscapes. Future studies need to verify this pattern by using multi-year data, larger sets of ES and BD components and a study design that is appropriate to address larger spatial scales and relationships in several regions.
Effects of landscape composition, species pool and time on grassland specialists in restored semi-natural grasslands
2017. Emelie Waldén (et al.). Biological Conservation 214, 176-183Article
Habitat restoration is an important complement to protecting habitat for the conservation of biodiversity. Semi-natural grasslands are target habitats for ecological restoration in temperate Europe. Restoration of abandoned semi-natural grasslands often relies on spontaneous colonisation of plant species from the soil seed bank or the surrounding landscape. Although many studies show that the regional species pool is important for upholding local diversity, its effect on restoration outcome in semi-natural grasslands is poorly known. In this multi landscape study, we examined grassland specialist species occurring in restored grasslands and the effect of specialist species pool, landscape composition and local temporal factors. We found that specialist richness and frequency was positively affected by specialist richness and frequency in the surrounding landscape. Specialist richness in the restored grasslands also increased with time since restoration. Moreover, specialist frequency in the restored grassland increased with the proportion of semi-natural and remnant grassland habitats in the landscape. We also found a positive relationship between the proportion of species occurring in both the restored grassland and its surrounding landscape and time since restoration, in landscapes with high proportions of semi natural grasslands. This suggests that both temporal factors, as well as the landscape composition and species pool, affect plant recolonisation in restored semi-natural grasslands.
European Union tree density limits do not reflect bat diversity in wood-pastures
2017. Heather Wood, Regina Lindborg, Simon Jakobsson. Biological Conservation 210, 60-71Article
The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) recommends subsidies are only granted for wood-pastures with < 100 trees/ha. This guidance exists despite these habitats being among the most biodiverse in boreal Europe and currently under threat due to land conversion. Bats are important bio-indicators of agricultural landscapes, but bat diversity has not explicitly been studied in relation to this policy. We investigate how bat activity, foraging, species richness and functional groups are affected in twenty-six wood-pastures along a gradient of tree density, from open to dense. In parallel, open fields and deciduous forests were sampled and the effect of the surrounding landscape configuration was explored. Our results show a consistent increase in total bat activity, foraging activity and species richness within wood-pastures along the tree density gradient. We find optimal tree densities within wood-pastures are higher than values reported in previous studies, and suggest thresholds might depend on the landscape context. Shrub density was a strong predictor of total bat activity and foraging; whilst structural variation of tree size in wood-pastures was most strongly correlated with species richness. We show that wood-pastures are an important habitat and in comparison to forests they contribute to higher bat species richness and activity levels. Interestingly, higher activity levels of forest feeding specialists were observed in wood-pastures compared to forests. At the landscape level, amount of water in the landscape was the strongest predictor of bat activity whilst deciduous forest mostly influenced foraging activity. This study demonstrates that tree density within wood-pastures is not a limiting factor of bat activity and foraging and that other habitat and landscape parameters are important. Thereby focusing solely on tree density limits will not help to promote the ecological requirements for bats. Instead we suggest that a results based approach to CAP payments would be preferable.
How spatial scale shapes the generation and management of multiple ecosystem services
2017. Regina Lindborg (et al.). Ecosphere 8 (4)Article
The spatial extent of ecological processes has consequences for the generation of ecosystem services related to them. However, management often fails to consider issues of scale when targeting ecological processes underpinning ecosystem services generation. Here, we present a framework for conceptualizing how the amount and spatial scale (here discussed in terms of extent) of management interventions alter interactions among multiple ecosystem services. First, we identify four types of responses of ecosystem service generation: linear, exponential, saturating, and sigmoid, and how these are related to the amount of management intervention at a particular spatial scale. Second, using examples from multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, we examine how the shape of these relationships can vary with the spatial scale at which the management interventions are implemented. Third, we examine the resulting scale-dependent consequences for trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services as a consequence of interventions. Finally, to inform guidelines for management of multiple ecosystem services in real landscapes, we end with a discussion linking the theoretical relationships with how landscape configurations and placement of interventions can alter the scale at which synergies and trade-offs among services occur.
Landscape simplification weakens the association between terrestrial producer and consumer diversity in Europe
2017. Matteo Dainese (et al.). Global Change Biology 23 (8), 3040-3051Article
Land-use change is one of the primary drivers of species loss, yet little is known about its effect on other components of biodiversity that may be at risk. Here, we ask whether, and to what extent, landscape simplification, measured as the percentage of arable land in the landscape, disrupts the functional and phylogenetic association between primary producers and consumers. Across seven European regions, we inferred the potential associations (functional and phylogenetic) between host plants and butterflies in 561 seminatural grasslands. Local plant diversity showed a strong bottom-up effect on butterfly diversity in the most complex landscapes, but this effect disappeared in simple landscapes. The functional associations between plant and butterflies are, therefore, the results of processes that act not only locally but are also dependent on the surrounding landscape context. Similarly, landscape simplification reduced the phylogenetic congruence among host plants and butterflies indicating that closely related butterflies become more generalist in the resources used. These processes occurred without any detectable change in species richness of plants or butterflies along the gradient of arable land. The structural properties of ecosystems are experiencing substantial erosion, with potentially pervasive effects on ecosystem functions and future evolutionary trajectories. Loss of interacting species might trigger cascading extinction events and reduce the stability of trophic interactions, as well as influence the longer term resilience of ecosystem functions. This underscores a growing realization that species richness is a crude and insensitive metric and that both functional and phylogenetic associations, measured across multiple trophic levels, are likely to provide additional and deeper insights into the resilience of ecosystems and the functions they provide.
Sustained functional composition of pollinators in restored pastures despite slow functional restoration of plants
2017. Marie Winsa (et al.). Ecology and Evolution 7 (11), 3836-3846Article
Habitat restoration is a key measure to counteract negative impacts on biodiversity from habitat loss and fragmentation. To assess success in restoring not only biodiversity, but also functionality of communities, we should take into account the re-assembly of species trait composition across taxa. Attaining such functional restoration would depend on the landscape context, vegetation structure, and time since restoration. We assessed how trait composition of plant and pollinator (bee and hoverfly) communities differ between abandoned, restored (formerly abandoned) or continuously grazed (intact) semi-natural pastures. In restored pastures, we also explored trait composition in relation to landscape context, vegetation structure, and pasture management history. Abandoned pastures differed from intact and restored pastures in trait composition of plant communities, and as expected, had lower abundances of species with traits associated with grazing adaptations. Further, plant trait composition in restored pastures became increasingly similar to that in intact pastures with increasing time since restoration. On the contrary, the trait composition of pollinator communities in both abandoned and restored pastures remained similar to intact pastures. The trait composition for both bees and hoverflies was influenced by flower abundance and, for bees, by connectivity to other intact grasslands in the landscape. The divergent responses across organism groups appeared to be mainly related to the limited dispersal ability and long individual life span in plants, the high mobility of pollinators, and the dependency of semi-natural habitat for bees. Our results, encompassing restoration effects on trait composition for multiple taxa along a gradient in both time (time since restoration) and space (connectivity), reveal how interacting communities of plants and pollinators are shaped by different trait-environmental relationships. Complete functional restoration of pastures needs for more detailed assessments of both plants dispersal in time and of resources available within pollinator dispersal range.
The importance of trees for woody pasture bird diversity and effects of the European Union's tree density policy
2017. Simon Jakobsson, Regina Lindborg. Journal of Applied Ecology 54 (6), 1638-1647Article
1. Recent reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy aim for a greening of the subsidy system with potential improvements for biodiversity conservation. As part of that process, the tree density limit for pastures to qualify for European Union subsidies has been increased from 50 to 100 trees per hectare. However, recent studies show that the high biodiversity values of these habitats may be threatened by these limits, highlighting the need for policy improvements. Still, little is known about the direct effects of tree density limitations on bird communities in woody pastures. 2. We investigated how bird diversity and species composition are affected by tree density in 49 Swedish woody pastures along a gradient of 4-214 trees per hectare. We recorded bird communities, tree density and stand structure estimates in the field and estimated forest cover in the surrounding landscape from aerial photos. Using generalised additive models and redundancy analysis, we analysed how bird territorial species richness, bird abundance and species composition are affected by tree density, taking into account other local and landscape scale explanatory variables. 3. Tree density had a significant positive effect on bird species richness at low tree densities and species richness saturated at approximately 50 trees per hectare. Shrub density had a significant positive linear effect on both bird species richness and abundance. Tree and shrub density were also the major drivers of bird community composition, with secondary effects of tree species diversity and landscape forest cover. 4. Policy implications. Our results show that tree density is not the limiting factor, but rather a driver of bird diversity and species composition in woody pastures and that tree density limits may fail to capture the whole range of biological values. To improve policy recommendations, we therefore stress the importance of considering additional social-ecological drivers associated to management quality, e.g. taking into account moral and cultural motivations among farmers, to preserve biodiversity in woody pastures.
Towards a trait-based ecology of wetland vegetation
2017. Helen Moor (et al.). Journal of Ecology 105 (6), 1623-1635Article
1. Functional traits mechanistically capture plant responses to environmental gradients as well as plant effects on ecosystem functioning. Yet most trait-based theory stems from terrestrial systems and extension to other habitats can provide new insights. 2. Wetlands differ from terrestrial systems in conditions (e.g. soil water saturation, anoxia, pH extremes), plant adaptations (e.g. aerenchyma, clonality, ubiquity of bryophytes) and important processes (e.g. denitrification, peat accumulation, methane emission). Wetland plant adaptations and trait (co-)variation can be situated along major plant trait trade-off axes (e.g. the resource economics spectrum), but soil saturation represents a complex stress gradient beyond a simple extension of commonly studied water availability gradients. 3. Traits that affect ecosystem functioning overlap with patterns in terrestrial systems. But wetland-specific traits that mediate plant effects on soil redox conditions, microbial communities and on water flow, as well as trait spectra of mosses, vary among wetland types. 4. Synthesis. With increasing availability of quantitative plant traits a trait-based ecology of wetlands is emerging, with the potential to advance process-based understanding and prediction. We provide an interactive cause-and-effect framework that may guide research efforts to disentangle the multiple interacting processes involved in scaling from environmental conditions to ecosystem functioning via plant communities.
Weak functional response to agricultural landscape homogenisation among plants, butterflies and birds
2017. Dennis Jonason (et al.). Ecography 40 (10), 1221-1230Article
Measures of functional diversity are expected to predict community responses to land use and environmental change because, in contrast to taxonomic diversity, it is based on species traits rather than their identity. Here, we investigated the impact of landscape homogenisation on plants, butterflies and birds in terms of the proportion of arable field cover in southern Finland at local (0.25 km2) and regional (> 10 000 km2) scales using four functional diversity indices: functional richness, functional evenness, functional divergence and functional dispersion. No uniform response in functional diversity across taxa or scales was found. However, in all cases where we found a relationship between increasing arable field cover and any index of functional diversity, this relationship was negative. Butterfly functional richness decreased with increasing arable field cover, as did butterfly and bird functional evenness. For butterfly functional evenness, this was only evident in the most homogeneous regions. Butterfly and bird functional dispersion decreased in homogeneous regions regardless of the proportion of arable field cover locally. No effect of landscape heterogeneity on plant functional diversity was found at any spatial scale, but plant species richness decreased locally with increasing arable field cover. Overall, species richness responded more consistently to landscape homogenisation than did the functional diversity indices, with both positive and negative effects across species groups. Functional diversity indices are in theory valuable instruments for assessing effects of land use scenarios on ecosystem functioning. However, the applicability of empirical data requires deeper understanding of which traits reliably capture species’ vulnerability to environmental factors and of the ecological interpretation of the functional diversity indices. Our study provides novel insights into how the functional diversity of communities changes in response to agriculturally derived landscape homogenisation; however, the low explanatory power of the functional diversity indices hampers the ability to reliably anticipate impacts on ecosystem functioning.
Long Term Positive Effect of Grassland Restoration on Plant Diversity - Success or Not?
2016. Emelie Waldén, Regina Lindborg. PLoS ONE 11 (5)Article
Restoration is important for biodiversity conservation worldwide, but surprisingly little is known about its efficiency in a long-term perspective. In this study, we re-examined Swedish semi-natural grasslands 12-20 years after the restoration, by comparing field inventories of vascular plant species diversity made in 2001 with follow-up inventories in 2012. We also analysed restoration effect in relation to six environmental factors and used continuously managed semi-natural grasslands as references of desired state after restoration. We found that total species richness increased over time but not to reference levels, while there were no significant changes in species density or number of grassland specialists. However, the overall species composition in the restored sites, as well as grassland specialist composition, now largely resembled reference conditions. Fertilisation and time between abandonment and restoration were the only environmental variables that affected total species composition change, while site area affected change in grassland specialist composition. Our results show that restoration of semi-natural grasslands can contribute to conservation of semi-natural habitats and their associated biodiversity. Yet, due to the vague restoration goals for these sites, it is difficult to evaluate the restoration success, which emphasise the general need for clear and measurable goals.
Governing nature by numbers - EU subsidy regulations do not capture the unique values of woody pastures
2015. Simon Jakobsson, Regina Lindborg. Biological Conservation 191, 1-9Article
A vast majority of European farmers are dependent on EU subsidies, which makes subsidy regulations through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) powerful tools in shaping agricultural landscapes. Unfortunately, steering recommendations are sometimes arbitrary, like in the case of pasture management, where 50 trees per hectare constitute an upper limit to qualify for subsidies. Although pasture biodiversity is well studied and the core of many CAP conservation programmes, it is seldom studied as direct effects of subsidy systems. In this paper, we examine plant diversity in relation to the impact of subsidy systems in Swedish woody pastures along a gradient from 3 to 214 trees per hectare. We selected 64 sites where we recorded vascular plants, soil properties and canopy cover. We found a general increase in γ- and β-diversity along the gradient, whereas α-diversity and the number of grassland specialists remained indifferent along the gradient. Additionally, tree density, organic content and C:N-ratio were the strongest predictors of species composition. Hence, when CAP regulations encourage tree cutting for pastures to qualify for subsidies there is risk of homogenisation of EU grasslands, leading to decreased γ- and β-diversity. If a general target for the subsidies is to increase biodiversity, there is need to scrutinise these regulation details to preserve the high values of woody pastures. We argue that habitat variation, species diversity and low intensity management, rather than a specific number of trees, should be the main incentives for financial support to preserve biodiversity.
Harnessing the biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland
2015. Laura M. E. Sutcliffe (et al.). Diversity & distributions 21 (6), 722-730Article
A large proportion of European biodiversity today depends on habitat provided by low-intensity farming practices, yet this resource is declining as European agriculture intensifies. Within the European Union, particularly the central and eastern new member states have retained relatively large areas of species-rich farmland, but despite increased investment in nature conservation here in recent years, farmland biodiversity trends appear to be worsening. Although the high biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland has long been reported, the amount of research in the international literature focused on farmland biodiversity in this region remains comparatively tiny, and measures within the EU Common Agricultural Policy are relatively poorly adapted to support it. In this opinion study, we argue that, 10years after the accession of the first eastern EU new member states, the continued under-representation of the low-intensity farmland in Central and Eastern Europe in the international literature and EU policy is impeding the development of sound, evidence-based conservation interventions. The biodiversity benefits for Europe of existing low-intensity farmland, particularly in the central and eastern states, should be harnessed before they are lost. Instead of waiting for species-rich farmland to further decline, targeted research and monitoring to create locally appropriate conservation strategies for these habitats is needed now.
Interacting effects of change in climate, human population, land use, and water use on biodiversity and ecosystem services
2015. Bodil Elmhagen (et al.). Ecology & society 20 (1)Article
Human population growth and resource use, mediated by changes in climate, land use, and water use, increasingly impact biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. However, impacts of these drivers on biodiversity and ecosystem services are rarely analyzed simultaneously and remain largely unknown. An emerging question is how science can improve the understanding of change in biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery and of potential feedback mechanisms of adaptive governance. We analyzed past and future change in drivers in south-central Sweden. We used the analysis to identify main research challenges and outline important research tasks. Since the 19th century, our study area has experienced substantial and interlinked changes; a 1.6 degrees C temperature increase, rapid population growth, urbanization, and massive changes in land use and water use. Considerable future changes are also projected until the mid-21st century. However, little is known about the impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services so far, and this in turn hampers future projections of such effects. Therefore, we urge scientists to explore interdisciplinary approaches designed to investigate change in multiple drivers, underlying mechanisms, and interactions over time, including assessment and analysis of matching-scale data from several disciplines. Such a perspective is needed for science to contribute to adaptive governance by constantly improving the understanding of linked change complexities and their impacts.
Mapping ecosystem services across scales and continents - A review
2015. Rebecka Malinga (et al.). Ecosystem Services 13, 57-63Article
Tremendous progress in ecosystem service mapping across the world has moved the concept of ecosystem services forward towards an increasingly useful tool for policy and decision making. There is a pressing need to analyse the various spatial approaches used for the mapping studies. We reviewed ecosystem services mapping literature in respect to spatial scale, world distribution, and types of ecosystem services considered. We found that most world regions were represented among ecosystem service mapping studies and that they included a diverse set of ecosystem services, relatively well distributed across different ecosystem service categories. A majority of the studies were presented at intermediary scales (municipal and provincial level), and 66% of the studies used a fine resolution of 1 ha or less. The intermediary scale of presentation is important for land use policy and management. The fact that studies are conducted at a fine resolution is important for informing land management practices that mostly takes place at the scale of fields to villages. Ecosystem service mapping could be substantially advanced by more systematic development of cross-case comparisons and methods.
Recovery of plant diversity in restored semi-natural pastures depends on adjacent land use
2015. Marie Winsa (et al.). Applied Vegetation Science 18 (3), 413-422Article
Questions - Does restoration success of formerly abandoned semi-natural pastures depend on adjacent land use? Is species richness higher in restored pastures adjacent to an intact semi-natural pasture than in restored pastures adjacent to arable land? Does community similarity between a restored and an adjacent intact pasture decrease with distance from the border between the two pastures? Do differences in species richness and community similarity decrease over time?
Location - Agricultural landscapes in south-central Sweden.
Methods - The plant community in previously abandoned but now restored semi-natural pastures was surveyed along a distance gradient from the border between the restored pastures and adjacent fields towards the centre of the pastures. The restored pastures were located adjacent to either a crop field (N=8) or a continuously grazed pasture (N=6), and differed in time since restoration (1-13yr).
Results - The total species richness was higher in pastures adjoining continuously grazed pastures compared to crop fields. Richness of both total and specialist species increased with time since restoration. Irrespective of adjacent land use, richness of specialist species decreased with increasing distance from the edge, an effect that became weaker with increasing time since restoration. The similarity in species composition compared to that in adjacent continuously grazed pasture also decreased towards the centre of the restored pasture.
Conclusions - Our results suggest that restoration of biodiversity in semi-natural pastures benefits from adjacent pastures that can act as source habitats. The most likely mechanism is step-wise short-distance dispersal, but also other processes, such as more long-distance dispersal, seed bank dynamics and historical legacies are probably involved. To best succeed in habitat restoration in fragmented landscapes, the spatial location of source populations must be considered.
Applying resilience thinking to production ecosystems
2014. L. Rist (et al.). Ecosphere 5 (6), 73Article
Production ecosystems typically have a high dependence on supporting and regulating ecosystem services and while they have thus far managed to sustain production, this has often been at the cost of externalities imposed on other systems and locations. One of the largest challenges facing humanity is to secure the production of food and fiber while avoiding long-term negative impacts on ecosystems and the range of services that they provide. Resilience has been used as a framework for understanding sustainability challenges in a range of ecosystem types, but has not been systematically applied across the range of systems specifically used for the production of food and fiber in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. This paper applied a resilience lens to production ecosystems in which anthropogenic inputs play varying roles in determining system dynamics and outputs. We argue that the traditional resilience framework requires important additions when applied to production systems. We show how sustained anthropogenic inputs of external resources can lead to a coercion'' of resilience and describe how the global interconnectedness of many production systems can camouflage signals indicating resilience loss.
Density of insect-pollinated grassland plants decreases with increasing surrounding land-use intensity
2014. Yann Clough (et al.). Ecology Letters 17 (9), 1168-1177Article
Pollinator declines have raised concerns about the persistence of plant species that depend on insect pollination, in particular by bees, for their reproduction. The impact of pollinator declines remains unknown for species-rich plant communities found in temperate seminatural grasslands. We investigated effects of land-use intensity in the surrounding landscape on the distribution of plant traits related to insect pollination in 239 European seminatural grasslands. Increasing arable land use in the surrounding landscape consistently reduced the density of plants depending on bee and insect pollination. Similarly, the relative abundance of bee-pollination-dependent plants increased with higher proportions of non-arable agricultural land (e.g. permanent grassland). This was paralleled by an overall increase in bee abundance and diversity. By isolating the impact of the surrounding landscape from effects of local habitat quality, we show for the first time that grassland plants dependent on insect pollination are particularly susceptible to increasing land-use intensity in the landscape.
2014. Cibele Queiroz (et al.). Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12 (5), 288-296Article
Farmland abandonment is changing rural landscapes worldwide, but its impacts on biodiversity are still being debated in the scientific literature. While some researchers see it as a threat to biodiversity, others view it as an opportunity for habitat regeneration. We reviewed 276 published studies describing various effects of farmland abandonment on biodiversity and found that a study's geographic region, selected metrics, assessed taxa, and conservation focus significantly affected how those impacts were reported. Countries in Eurasia and the New World reported mainly negative and positive effects of farmland abandonment on biodiversity, respectively. Notably, contrasting impacts were recorded in different agricultural regions of the world that were otherwise similar in land-use and biodiversity characteristics. We showed that the conservation focus (pre- or post-abandonment) in different regions is an important factor influencing how scientists address the abandonment issue, and this may affect how land-use policies are defined in agricultural landscapes.
Function of small habitat elements for enhancing plant diversity in different agricultural landscapes
2014. Regina Lindborg (et al.). Biological Conservation 169, 206-213Article
The extensive transformation of agricultural landscapes worldwide has led to a decrease in grassland species related to traditional low-intensive farming. To properly manage and protect species, habitats and ecosystems in any of these landscapes requires a better understanding of direct and indirect effects of the processes driving biodiversity decline. In this study, we investigated how small habitat elements, represented by mid-field islets and road verges, in different types of agricultural landscapes can sustain a regional species pool for plant diversity otherwise associated to semi-natural grasslands. Although semi-natural grasslands had higher total and specialist richness, we found that small habitat elements harboured relatively high plant species richness, especially in a landscape with many semi-natural grasslands left. In the most intensively managed landscape, total richness declined as distance to the nearest semi-natural grassland increased. In contrast, beta-diversity was highest in these landscapes indicating that small habitats are also negatively affected by distance to grassland. We found that species trait composition varied depending on habitat and landscape. The results confirm that fragmentation shape trait composition within plant communities, e.g. plant size, clonality, longevity, and dispersal traits. We conclude that small habitat elements increase the total area available to grassland species present in the landscape, boosting the spatio-temporal dynamics of grassland communities. Small habitat elements may hence function as refugia or stepping stone habitats, especially in intensively utilized agricultural landscapes, and should be regarded as a functional part of a semi-natural grassland network, analogous to a meta-population.
Political Systems Affect Mobile and Sessile Species Diversity - A Legacy from the Post-WWII Period
2014. Sara A. O. Cousins (et al.). PLoS ONE 9 (8), e103367Article
Political ideologies, policies and economy affect land use which in turn may affect biodiversity patterns and future conservation targets. However, few studies have investigated biodiversity in landscapes with similar physical properties but governed by different political systems. Here we investigate land use and biodiversity patterns, and number and composition of birds and plants, in the borderland of Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. It is a physically uniform landscape but managed differently during the last 70 years as a consequence of the political map of Europe after World War I and II. We used a historical map from 1910 and satellite data to delineate land use within three 10-kilometre transects starting from the point where the three countries meet. There was a clear difference between countries detectable in current biodiversity patterns, which relates to land use history. Mobile species richness was associated with current land use whereas diversity of sessile species was more associated with past land use. Heterogeneous landscapes were positively and forest cover was negatively correlated to bird species richness. Our results provide insights into why landscape history is important to understand present and future biodiversity patterns, which is crucial for designing policies and conservation strategies across the world.
A landscape perspective on conservation of semi-natural grasslands.
2008. Regina Lindborg (et al.). AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT 125 (1-4), 213-222Article
Current agri-environmental schemes and subsidies for conservation and restoration of semi-natural grasslands do not explicitly assess land use changes affecting whole landscapes, but have so far focused on single objects and small areas. In this paper, we discuss a landscape perspective versus a "single object" perspective when conserving semi-natural grassland in agricultural landscapes. The focus is on the values biodiversity, cultural heritage, a vital countryside, and effects on economy when land use changes. We conclude that when land use change in the landscape surrounding an object, important additional effects on the different values are found. For example, a countryside where animals graze former arable fields and where marginal habitats are managed will have a positive effect, not only on the biodiversity associated to semi-natural grasslands, but also for the image of a vital and dynamic landscape. An increased number of roads, on the other hand, may negatively affect cultural heritage and decrease biodiversity in grasslands, leading to negative effects on the value of common goods through isolation. Placing objects in a larger spatial context and combining several different aspects into a landscape perspective, will improve long-term preservation of values associated to semi-natural grasslands.
On the other side of the ditch
2018. Rebecka Henriksson Malinga (et al.). Ecology & society 23 (4)Article
Managing for increased multifunctionality of agricultural landscapes is a crucial step toward a sustainable global agriculture. We studied two contrasting agricultural landscapes that exist in parallel on two sides of a ditch in the South African Drakensberg Mountains. The large-scale commercial and smallholder farmers operate within a similar biophysical context but have different farming intensities, management practices, socioeconomic positions, ethnic identities, cultural contexts, and land tenure systems. To assess multifunctionality, we examined the ecosystem services coproduced within these two social-ecological systems, by applying a mixed-method approach combining in-depth interviews, participatory mapping, and expert assessments. The results indicate clear differences between the two farming systems and farmer groups in terms of supply, demand, and the capacity of the farmers to influence ecosystem service production within their landscapes. Commercial farmers can generally produce agricultural products to meet their demand and have the capacity to mitigate land degradation and erosion. Smallholder food production is low, and the demand for ecosystem services is high. Since the smallholders lack the resources to mitigate unsustainable use, this leads to overuse and land degradation. Both landscape types manifest aspects of multifunctionality but vary in the outcomes. Unequal access to land; skills; and natural, financial, and technical resources can hamper multifunctionality and the development toward an equitable and sustainable agriculture in South Africa.
How does roadside vegetation management affect the diversity of vascular plants and invertebrates? A systematic review
2018. Simon Jakobsson (et al.). Environmental Evidence 7 (1)Article
Background: With appropriate management, based on vegetation removal that reverses late-successional vegetation stages, roadsides can support high levels of biodiversity. However, current recommendations for roadside management to conserve or restore biodiversity are largely based on research on non-roadside grassland habitats, and much of the evidence on how roadside management practices affect biodiversity is found in non-peer-reviewed grey literature. Therefore, based on suggestions from key stakeholders and an initial systematic map that identified 97 studies on how biodiversity is affected by vegetation removal on roadsides, we conducted a full systematic review of the effects on plant and invertebrate diversity of disturbance-based maintenance of roadsides. Methods: The review was restricted to effects of non-chemical interventions such as mowing, burning, grazing and mechanical shrub removal. Studies were selected from the systematic map and from an updated search for more recent literature using a priori eligibility criteria. Relevant articles were subject to critical appraisal of clarity and susceptibility to bias, and studies with low or unclear validity were excluded from the review. Data on species richness, species diversity and abundance of functional groups were extracted together with metadata on site properties and other potential effect modifiers. Results from the 54 included studies were summarised in a narrative synthesis, and impacts of mowing practices on the total species richness and diversity of plants and on the abundance of forbs, graminoids and woody plants were quantitatively analysed using t tests of study-level effect ratios. Results: Nearly all of the 54 studies included in the review were conducted in Europe (29) or North America (24). The vast majority of studies (48) examined impacts of mowing. Effects on vascular plants were reported in 51 studies, whereas 8 of the studies reported on invertebrates. Quantitative analysis of plant species richness and species diversity showed that mowing effects were dependent on the interplay between mowing frequency and hay removal. Thus, there were no statistically significant overall effects of mowing vs. no mowing, frequency of mowing, timing of mowing or hay removal. However, species richness was higher in roadsides mowed once or twice per year with hay removal than in unmown roadsides, and positively affected by mowing twice compared to once per year. Similar, but less pronounced, effects were found for plant species diversity. In addition, mowing had a negative impact on woody plant abundance, and increased mowing frequency had a negative impact on graminoid abundance. The few studies on invertebrates showed effects that diverged across taxon groups, and there was not enough data for quantitative analysis of these results. Conclusions: The results provide evidence on the effects of mowing on plant species richness. To increase plant species richness, roadsides should be mowed each year, preferably twice per year, and hay should be removed after each cutting. The review also identifies large knowledge gaps concerning roadside management and its effects on biodiversity, especially regarding invertebrates. Hence, this systematic review provides not only a valuable basis for evidence-based management but also guidance for future research on this topic, essential to inform management of road networks for biodiversity conservation.
Organic farming and heterogeneous landscapes positively affect different measures of plant diversity
2014. Romina Rader (et al.). Journal of Applied Ecology 51 (6), 1544-1553Article
Increasing landscape heterogeneity and organic farming practices are known to enhance species richness in agroecosystems. However, little is known about the consequences of these management options on other biodiversity components such as community composition, phylogenetic structure and functional diversity which may be more closely linked to ecosystem functioning. We surveyed semi-natural plant communities within the uncultivated field margins of 18 arable farms in Skane, south Sweden. We investigated how taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity responds to landscape heterogeneity (presence of semi-natural habitat) and farm management intensity (organic vs. conventional farming). Plant species richness and functional diversity metrics all responded positively to landscape heterogeneity, with the strongest effect occurring on conventional farms. Community composition differed with farm management, and mean phylogenetic relatedness, an indicator of phylogenetic structure, was significantly higher on the field margins of organic compared to conventional farms. Individual plant functional groups themselves responded in unique ways to land management and landscape heterogeneity.Synthesis and applications. Management strategies that promote the conservation of heterogeneous landscapes (i.e. a higher proportion of semi-natural habitats) and organic farm management practices are important for maintaining plant phylogenetic, functional and taxonomic diversity in agroecosystems. Accommodating various forms of diversity is important to ensure that ecosystems have the greatest possible array of species ecologies'. Such measures will help to improve the capacity of these ecosystems to provide multiple ecosystem functions, including the sustaining and regulating services of benefit to people. Management strategies that promote the conservation of heterogeneous landscapes (i.e. a higher proportion of semi-natural habitats) and organic farm management practices are important for maintaining plant phylogenetic, functional and taxonomic diversity in agroecosystems. Accommodating various forms of diversity is important to ensure that ecosystems have the greatest possible array of species ecologies'. Such measures will help to improve the capacity of these ecosystems to provide multiple ecosystem functions, including the sustaining and regulating services of benefit to people.
A framework to identify indicator species for ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes
2018. Klaus Birkhofer (et al.). Ecological Indicators 91, 278-286Article
Improving our understanding of the relationships between biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services is crucial for the development of sustainable agriculture. We introduce a novel framework that is based on the identification of indicator species for single or multiple ecosystem services across taxonomic groups based on indicator species analyses. We utilize multi-species community data (unlike previous single species approaches) without giving up information about the identity of species in our framework (unlike previous species richness approaches). We compiled a comprehensive community dataset including abundances of 683 invertebrate, vertebrate and plant species to identify indicator species that were either positively or negatively related to biological control, diversity of red-listed species or crop yield in agricultural landscapes in southern Sweden. Our results demonstrate that some taxonomic groups include significantly higher percentages of indicator species for these ecosystem services. Spider communities for example included a higher percentage of significant positive indicator species for biological control than ground or rove beetle communities. Bundles of indicator species for the analysed ecosystem service potentials usually included species that could be linked to the respective ecosystem service based on their functional role in local communities. Several of these species are conspicuous enough to be monitored by trained amateurs and could be used in bundles that are either crucial for the provision of individual ecosystem services or indicate agricultural landscapes with high value for red-listed species or crop yields. The use of bundles of characteristic indicator species for the simultaneous assessment of ecosystem services may reduce the amount of labour, time and cost in future assessments. In addition, future analysis using our framework in other ecosystems or with other subsets of ecosystem services and taxonomic groups will improve our understanding of service-providing species in local communities. In any case, expert knowledge is needed to select species from the identified subsets of significant indicator species and these species should be validated by existing data or additional sampling prior to being used for ecosystem service monitoring.
Different agricultural practices affect soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous in Kilombero -Tanzania
2019. Edmond Alavaisha, Stefano Manzoni, Regina Lindborg. Journal of Environmental Management 234, 159-166Article
Converting natural and semi-natural vegetation to agriculture is currently the most significant land use change at global scale. This conversion leads to changes in soil nutrients and increased CO2 emissions. However, knowledge of how soil organic carbon and nutrients change under various farming management is still limited, especially for small scale farming systems. This study evaluated the effects of different farming systems on soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorous (TP) in subsistence farming at Kilombero, Tanzania. We applied an in-situ experimental setup, comparing maize and rice farming with and without irrigation and difference in fertilizers, with replicated soil sampling at five soil depths to a depth of 60 cm. The results show that irrigation had a positive effect on profile-averaged concentrations of SOC and TN, while fertilization had a positive effect on TN. Higher concentrations and stocks of TN were found in maize field soils compered to rice fields. In the vertical profile, irrigation and fertilization had positive effects on concentrations of SOC and TN of top soil layers, and the interaction between irrigation and fertilization extended the effect to deeper soil layers. Our results indicate that moderate irrigation and fertilization can help to improve carbon storage and nutrient availability (TN) in small-scale farming soils in Africa.
Grasslands-more important for ecosystem services than you might think
2019. J. Bengtsson (et al.). Ecosphere 10 (2)Article
Extensively managed grasslands are recognized globally for their high biodiversity and their social and cultural values. However, their capacity to deliver multiple ecosystem services (ES) as parts of agricultural systems is surprisingly understudied compared to other production systems. We undertook a comprehensive overview of ES provided by natural and semi-natural grasslands, using southern Africa (SA) and northwest Europe as case studies, respectively. We show that these grasslands can supply additional non-agricultural services, such as water supply and flow regulation, carbon storage, erosion control, climate mitigation, pollination, and cultural ES. While demand for ecosystems services seems to balance supply in natural grasslands of SA, the smaller areas of semi-natural grasslands in Europe appear to not meet the demand for many services. We identified three bundles of related ES from grasslands: water ES including fodder production, cultural ES connected to livestock production, and population-based regulating services (e.g., pollination and biological control), which also linked to biodiversity. Greenhouse gas emission mitigation seemed unrelated to the three bundles. The similarities among the bundles in SA and northwestern Europe suggest that there are generalities in ES relations among natural and semi-natural grassland areas. We assessed trade-offs and synergies among services in relation to management practices and found that although some trade-offs are inevitable, appropriate management may create synergies and avoid trade-offs among many services. We argue that ecosystem service and food security research and policy should give higher priority to how grasslands can be managed for fodder and meat production alongside other ES. By integrating grass-lands into agricultural production systems and land-use decisions locally and regionally, their potential to contribute to functional landscapes and to food security and sustainable livelihoods can be greatly enhanced.
How are biodiversity and dispersal of species affected by the management of roadsides? A systematic map
2017. Claes Bernes (et al.). Environmental Evidence 6 (1)Article
Background: In many parts of the world, roadsides are regularly managed for traffic-safety reasons. Hence, there are similarities between roadsides and certain other managed habitats, such as wooded pastures and mown or grazed grasslands. These habitats have declined rapidly in Europe during the last century. For many species historically associated with them, roadsides may function as new primary habitats or as dispersal corridors in fragmented landscapes. Current recommendations for roadside management to promote conservation values are largely based on studies of plants in semi-natural grasslands, although such areas often differ from roadsides in terms of environmental conditions and disturbance regimes. Moreover, roadsides provide habitat not only for plants but also for many insects. For these reasons, stakeholders in Sweden have emphasised the need for more targeted management recommendations, based on actual studies of roadside biodiversity. Methods: This systematic map provides an overview of the available evidence on how biodiversity is affected by various forms of roadside management, and how such management influences the dispersal of species along roads or roadsides. We searched for literature using 13 online publication databases, 4 search engines, 36 specialist websites and 5 literature reviews. Search terms were developed in English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. Identified articles were screened for relevance using criteria set out in a protocol. No geographical restrictions were applied, and all species and groups of organisms were considered. Descriptions of included studies are available in an Excel file, and also in an interactive GIS application that can be accessed at an external website. Results: Our searches identified more than 7000 articles. The 207 articles included after screening described 301 individual studies considered to be relevant. More than two-thirds of these studies were conducted in North America, with most of the rest performed in Europe. More than half of the studies were published in grey literature such as reports from agencies or consultants. The interventions most commonly studied were herbicide use, sowing and mowing, followed by soil amendments such as mulching and fertiliser additions. The outcomes most frequently reported were effects of interventions on the abundance or species richness of herbs/forbs, graminoids and woody plants. Effects on insects and birds were reported in 6 and 3% of the studies, respectively. Conclusions: This systematic map is based on a comprehensive and systematic screening of all available literature on the effects of roadside management on biodiversity and dispersal of species. As such it should be of value to a range of actors, including managers and policymakers. The map provides a key to finding concrete guidance for conservation- and restoration-oriented roadside management from published research. However, the map also highlights important knowledge gaps: little data was found for some geographical regions, research is heavily biased taxonomically towards plants, and no study was found on how species dispersal was affected by roadside management. The map could therefore be a source of inspiration for new research.
Assessment of Water Quality Across Irrigation Schemes
2019. Edmond Alavaisha, Steve W. Lyon, Regina Lindborg. Water 11 (4)Article
Coupled change in land and water use due to increased farming intensity is a main factor affecting water quality and quantity, ecological functions and biodiversity globally. Prolonging growing seasons and increasing productivity in wetlands through irrigation have been targeted for increasing food security, particularly in developing countries. Nevertheless, irrigation and drainage have often been associated with degradation of water quality through increased agrochemical and fertiliser runoff and leaching at local scales. In this study, we investigated water quality in streams used for irrigation in a wetland area in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. We measured physical-chemical water parameters and collected macroinvertebrates with different sensitivity to water quality across several small irrigation schemes covering various conditions. Turbidity, temperature, nitrate-N, and ammonium-N were significantly higher at sampling sites downstream of irrigation compared to upstream. Macroinvertebrate diversity, richness and average score per taxa (ASPT) were higher in general in sampling sites upstream of irrigation, with more sensitive macroinvertebrates decreasing in abundance downstream. There was a positive correlation between physical-chemical parameters and macroinvertebrate indices across the sites. We demonstrate that macroinvertebrate indices can be used as a quick assessment of water quality in response to irrigation schemes in small-scale farming systems of Tanzania. This in turn can allow us to track changes affecting wetland ecosystem function and biodiversity at higher trophic levels and across larger scales, thereby providing useful early warnings to help avoid widespread degradation under widespread agricultural intensification.
Do alternative irrigation strategies for rice cultivation decrease water footprints at the cost of long-term soil health?
2019. John Livsey (et al.). Environmental Research Letters 14 (7)Article
The availability of water is a growing concern for flooded rice production. As such, several water-saving irrigation practices have been developed to reduce water requirements. Alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage have been shown to potentially reduce water requirements while maintaining rice yields when compared to continuous flooding. With the removal of permanently anaerobic conditions during the growing season, water-saving irrigation can also reduce CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) emissions, helping reduce the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the long-term impact of water-saving irrigation on soil organic carbon (SOC)-used here as an indicator of soil health and fertility-has not been explored. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis to assess the effects of common water-saving irrigation practices (alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage) on (i) SOC, and (ii) GHG emissions. Despite an extensive literature search, only 12 studies were found containing data to constrain the soil C balance in both continuous flooding and water-saving irrigation plots, highlighting the still limited understanding of long-term impacts of water-saving irrigation on soil health and GHG emissions. Water-saving irrigation was found to reduce emissions of CH4 by 52.3% and increased those of CO2 by 44.8%. CO2eq emissions were thereby reduced by 18.6% but the soil-to-atmosphere carbon (C) flux increased by 25% when compared to continuous flooding. Water-saving irrigation was also found to have a negative effect on both SOC-reducing concentrations by 5.2%-and soil organic nitrogen-potentially depleting stocks by more than 100 kgN/ha per year. While negative effects of water-saving irrigation on rice yield may not be visible in short-term experiments, care should be taken when assessing the long-term sustainability of these irrigation practices because they can decrease soil fertility. Strategies need to be developed for assessing the more long-term effects of these irrigation practices by considering trade-offs between water savings and other ecosystem services.
Transferring biodiversity-ecosystem function research to the management of 'real-world' ecosystems
2019. Peter Manning (et al.). Mechanisms underlying the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function, 323-356Chapter
Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) research grew rapidly following concerns that biodiversity loss would negatively affect ecosystem functions and the ecosystem services they underpin. However, despite evidence that biodiversity strongly affects ecosystem functioning, the influence of BEF research upon policy and the management of 'real-world' ecosystems, i.e., semi-natural habitats and agroecosystems, has been limited. Here, we address this issue by classifying BEF research into three clusters based on the degree of human control over species composition and the spatial scale, in terms of grain, of the study, and discussing how the research of each cluster is best suited to inform particular fields of ecosystem management. Research in the first cluster, small-grain highly controlled studies, is best able to provide general insights into mechanisms and to inform the management of species-poor and highly managed systems such as croplands, plantations, and the restoration of heavily degraded ecosystems. Research from the second cluster, small-grain observational studies, and species removal and addition studies, may allow for direct predictions of the impacts of species loss in specific semi-natural ecosystems. Research in the third cluster, large-grain uncontrolled studies, may best inform landscape-scale management and national-scale policy. We discuss barriers to transfer within each cluster and suggest how new research and knowledge exchange mechanisms may overcome these challenges. To meet the potential for BEF research to address global challenges, we recommend transdisciplinary research that goes beyond these current clusters and considers the social-ecological context of the ecosystems in which BEF knowledge is generated. This requires recognizing the social and economic value of biodiversity for ecosystem services at scales, and in units, that matter to land managers and policy makers.
Contrasting multi-taxa functional diversity patterns along vegetation structure gradients of woody pastures
2020. Simon Jakobsson (et al.). Biodiversity and Conservation 29, 3551-3572Article
Woody pastures represent keystone habitats for biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, contributing to increased resource availability, landscape heterogeneity and structural variability. High taxonomic diversity is closely linked to vegetation structure in woody pastures, but examining functional characteristics of species assemblages can shed more light on the ecological mechanisms driving divergent responses to habitat characteristics and help guide good management practices. To this end, we use a multi-taxa approach to investigate how plant, bat and bird taxonomic and functional diversity are affected by pasture tree and shrub density, structural complexity and proximate forest cover in southern Sweden. In particular, we use a trait exclusion approach to estimate the sensitivity of diversity-environment relationships to specific traits. We found little congruence between corresponding diversity metrics across taxa. Bird species richness responded stronger to environmental variables than functional diversity metrics, whereas the functional response to the environment was stronger than the taxonomic response among plants and bats. While increasing tree densities increased the taxonomic diversity of all three taxa, a simultaneous functional response was only evident for plants. Contrasting measures of vegetation structure affected different aspects of functional diversity across taxa, driven by different traits. For plants and birds, traits linked to resource use contributed particularly to the functional response, whereas body mass had stronger influence on bat functional diversity metrics. Multi-taxa functional approaches are essential to understand the effects of woody pasture structural attributes on biodiversity, and ultimately inform management guidelines to preserve the biological values in woody pastures.
Adaptive capacity and coping strategies of small-scale coastal fisheries to declining fish catches
2020. Mathew O. Silas (et al.). Environmental Science and Policy 108, 67-76Article
Small-scale fishing communities are expected to adapt to fish catch fluctuations linked to global environmental change. Notwithstanding, impacts from severe climate events and overexploitation of fisheries resources can compromise functions and resilience of ecosystems and associated species, and thereby jeopardize long-term population trend stability and fisheries productivity. To date, most assessments and vulnerability studies of fisheries-dependent populaces have focused on global, regional and national levels, while studies at village and community levels, where adaptive planning in the context of climate- and environmental changes is important, are less common. Based on data from official fishery records over a three-decadal period (1984-2016) and recent interviews with artisanal fishermen (319 fishers from eight communities) along the Tanzanian coast, we assessed small-scale fisheries with regard to (i) long-term trends in fishery landings, (ii) long-term alterations in fishing gear use, and (iii) fishers' perceptions on how they have been coping and adapting to fluctuating fish landings. We further investigated (iv) the adaptive capacity of a wide range of coastal villages by assessing the fishers' responses to an anticipated future scenario of a major (50 %) decline in landings from the current fisheries catch levels. The long-term trend records of fish landings showed a remarkable similar to 50 % reduction in terms of both catch per vessel and catch per fisher from 1984 to 2016. According to the interviews, the majority of fishers (75 %) have changed fishing grounds from nearshore to offshore areas during the last decade, owing to a general perception that nearshore areas have suffered major reduction in fish stocks (due to overfishing and environmental changes related to extreme climate- or weather events), while offshore areas were considered still productive. The change in location of fishing grounds is probably a result of the clear switch in major gear type utilization from beach seine to ring net that occurred over the last decades. With a further progressive decline in fishery catches to a predictive level of 50 % of the current catch level, there is a general perception that artisanal fishers will continue fishing because alternative livelihoods (like crop farming, which employs more than 65 % of the population) have suffered similar negative impact. These findings highlight the need for building adaptive capacity in local coastal communities to develop alternative coping strategies for the impacts of climate- and environmental changes.
Exploring the effects of pasture trees on plant community patterns
2019. Simon Jakobsson (et al.). Journal of Vegetation Science 30 (5), 809-820Article
We aim to answer three questions: (a) what are the effects of canopy shading of different tree species on seed germination of eight understorey grassland species? (b) how is plant species’ occurrence in understorey communities affected by differences in canopy cover and does that depend on tree species composition? and (c) are there mechanistic links between the effects of trees on species’ germination and their occurrence in the understorey plant community?
Semi‐natural wooded pastures in the biosphere reserve Östra Vätterbranterna, southern Sweden.
In this study, we examined the germination of eight grassland plant species in a seed sowing experiment under natural conditions in the field. Seeds were sown beneath and outside the canopy of two tree species within 48 plots split up by four wooded pasture sites. We combined observed germination responses with a plant community survey to assess the effects of canopy cover in relation to tree species composition on plant community responses. We analysed these data in relation to species’ seed mass and vegetative shade tolerance.
Shade‐tolerant species germinated better beneath compared to outside tree canopies, without any clear advantage of large‐seeded over small‐seeded species. As expected, species’ shade tolerance was also positively related to canopy cover within the understorey plant community. Importantly, we found strong tree species‐specific effects of canopy shading on the species’ germination response, but not on their presence within the plant community. However, optimal canopy cover conditions for germination and for the mature plants differed across grassland species and depended on tree species.
Our results show that different tree species play key ecosystem engineering roles in shaping wooded grassland plant community composition at the germination stage. Management practices favouring specific tree species may therefore be highly relevant for targeted biodiversity conservation of wooded semi‐natural grasslands.
Soil Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Contents along a Gradient of Agricultural Intensity in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
2020. John Livsey (et al.). Land 9 (4)Article
The preservation of soils which provide many important services to society is a pressing global issue. This is particularly the case in countries like Tanzania, which will experience rapid population growth over coming decades. The country is also currently experiencing rapid land-use change and increasing intensification of its agricultural systems to ensure sufficient food production. However, little is known regarding what the long term effects of this land use change will be, especially concerning soil quality. Therefore, we assessed the effect of irrigation and fertilization in agricultural systems, going from low intensity smallholder to high intensity commercial production, on soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorous (TP) concentrations and stocks. Soil sampling was conducted within Kilombero Plantations Ltd. (KPL), a high intensity commercial farm located in Kilombero, Tanzania, and also on surrounding smallholder farms, capturing a gradient of agricultural intensity. We found that irrigation had a positive effect on SOC concentrations and stocks while fertilization had a negative effect. Rain-fed non-fertilized production had no effect on soil properties when compared to native vegetation. No difference was found in concentrations of TN or TP across the intensity gradient. However, TN stocks were significantly larger in the surface soils (0-30 cm) of the most intensive production system when compared to native vegetation and smallholder production.
Show all publications by Regina Lindborg at Stockholm University