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Effects of land-use change on multifunctionality in agroecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystem services after transition to ecological farming

Effects of agricultural intensification and management on biodiversity are becoming increasingly well understood, but we know less about the corresponding effects of agricultural land-use change on multiple ecosystem services. Agricultural intensification does not only affect species richness of many organism groups, but may also reduce the functional diversity in agroecosystems.

Ecological studies focusing on effects of organic farming on biodiversity and ecosystem functionality have mainly ignored the time since transition from conventional to organic farming. A reliable assessment of the long-term effects of organic farming on biodiversity and ecosystem services requires knowledge of both the speed and magnitude of changes in diversity and functionality in a landscape context.

Organic farmers depend on ecosystem services such as biological control of pests or nutrient cycling for crop production, but effects of organic farming on the delivery of multiple services have rarely been studied. The purpose of the present project is to analyse the provision of several ecosystem services in conventional, recently transformed new organic and established organic fields along a landscape complexity gradient.

Our main hypothesis is that organic farming leads to higher values of intermediate ecosystem services compared to conventional farming, and that these effects increase with time since transition. This project is of general importance for understanding long-term effects of organic farming on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and for the development of sustainable production systems based on an assessment of ecosystem functionality.

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