Lehrstuhl für Tierökologie und Tropenbiologie


Linking farmland biodiversity to ecosystem services for effective ecofunctional intensification

Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Emily Martin, Sarah Redlich

Funding: EU (FP7)
Duration: February 2013 – January 2017

-    Identifying general relationships between semi-natural habitats, on-farm management and biodiversity (WP1)
-    Linking biodiversity to ecosystem services on farmland (WP2)
-    Mitigation of biodiversity loss and promotion of ecosystem services (WP3)

The next few decades will witness a rapidly increasing demand for agricultural products. This growing demand needs to be met largely through intensification (produce more from the same land surface) because there is little scope for an increase in agricultural area. Ecological intensification has been proposed as a promising solution.
Ecological intensification is the optimization of all provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services in the agricultural production process. As such it advocates to maintain or enhance agricultural production through the promotion of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.

The LIBERATION project aims to provide the evidence-base for the potential of ecological intensification to sustainably enhance food security with minimal negative impacts on the environment. This requires a basic insight in how biodiversity contributes to various ecosystem services and subsequently how ecosystem services contribute to yield and farm income. Key questions that will be addressed are:
•    How landscape structure and land-use interact in the provisioning of ecosystem services;
•    How farmland biodiversity is related to multiple ecosystem services;
•    Whether there are trade-offs between different ecosystem services;
•    How ecosystem services are related to farm income;
•    How ecosystem services may be influenced by policy measures at the local, national or EU scale.
LIBERATION will focus on the ecosystem services pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling and soil fertility, thus examining both above- and below-ground ecosystem services as well as possible trade-offs and synergies. Implications for greenhouse gas emissions will be explored throughout all activities in the project. Ecosystem service delivery will be expressed in terms of (their contribution to) agricultural yield and in terms of farm income.

Species groups: agricultural pests, pest control-related organisms incl. birds, pollinators, soil organisms

Study regions: Würzburg (Germany) and 6 other European countries

Habitat: Agroecosystems

Methods: applied landscape ecology, GIS, yield experiments in crop fields, exclosures for biocontrol and pollination assessment, biodiversity monitoring and sampling, greenhouse experiments, soil removal, DNA analyses.