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Intensive agriculture reduces soil biodiversity across Europe

Author:
  • Maria A. Tsiafouli
  • Elisa Thebault
  • Stefanos P. Sgardelis
  • Peter C. de Ruiter
  • Wim H. van der Putten
  • Klaus Birkhofer
  • Lia Hemerik
  • Franciska T. de Vries
  • Richard D. Bardgett
  • Mark Vincent Brady
  • Lisa Bjornlund
  • Helene Bracht Jörgensen
  • Soren Christensen
  • Tina D'Hertefeldt
  • Stefan Hotes
  • W. H. Gera Hol
  • Jan Frouz
  • Mira Liiri
  • Simon R. Mortimer
  • Heikki Setala
  • Joseph Tzanopoulos
  • Karoline Uteseny
  • Vaclav Pizl
  • Josef Stary
  • Volkmar Wolters
  • Katarina Hedlund
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 973-985
Publication/Series: Global Change Biology
Volume: 21
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Soil biodiversity plays a key role in regulating the processes that underpin the delivery of ecosystem goods and services in terrestrial ecosystems. Agricultural intensification is known to change the diversity of individual groups of soil biota, but less is known about how intensification affects biodiversity of the soil food web as a whole, and whether or not these effects may be generalized across regions. We examined biodiversity in soil food webs from grasslands, extensive, and intensive rotations in four agricultural regions across Europe: in Sweden, the UK, the Czech Republic and Greece. Effects of land-use intensity were quantified based on structure and diversity among functional groups in the soil food web, as well as on community-weighted mean body mass of soil fauna. We also elucidate land-use intensity effects on diversity of taxonomic units within taxonomic groups of soil fauna. We found that between regions soil food web diversity measures were variable, but that increasing land-use intensity caused highly consistent responses. In particular, land-use intensification reduced the complexity in the soil food webs, as well as the community-weighted mean body mass of soil fauna. In all regions across Europe, species richness of earthworms, Collembolans, and oribatid mites was negatively affected by increased land-use intensity. The taxonomic distinctness, which is a measure of taxonomic relatedness of species in a community that is independent of species richness, was also reduced by land-use intensification. We conclude that intensive agriculture reduces soil biodiversity, making soil food webs less diverse and composed of smaller bodied organisms. Land-use intensification results in fewer functional groups of soil biota with fewer and taxonomically more closely related species. We discuss how these changes in soil biodiversity due to land-use intensification may threaten the functioning of soil in agricultural production systems.

Keywords

  • Ecology
  • agricultural intensification
  • body mass
  • ecosystem services
  • functional
  • groups
  • soil food web
  • taxonomic breadth
  • taxonomic distinctness
  • terrestrial ecosystems

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1354-1013
Katarina Hedlund
E-mail: katarina.hedlund [at] biol.lu.se

Professor

Biodiversity

+46 46 222 37 98

+46 72 562 10 04

E-A321

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Researcher

Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 37 98

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Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden