Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    The significance of biodiversity in agriculture: relevance, aims and progress of the Ag-Biota Project
    We describe and review the scientific and policy background with respect to the impact of agriculture on biodiversity and outline the structure and objectives of the Ag-Biota Project. The latter is a large, multiinstitutional study funded by the ERTDI Programme (2000–2006) under the aegis of the National Development Plan. As such, Ag-Biota represents an ongoing commitment to the protection and conservation of biodiversity, and the integration of policy towards the achievement of these goals in all economic sectors. Ag-Biota is addressing directly the practical needs for agri-environmental policy development, such as the need to identify suitable biodiversity indicators for agriculture and begin the development of realistic and practical monitoring and assessment methods; is focussing on the development of ecological understanding concerning the more effective utilisation of beneficial biological populations and processes within the agro-ecosystem; and is asking more fundamental ecological questions concerning the functional role and significance of biological diversity in community structures. The Ag-Biota project represents a suitably policy-focussed response to, and a considerable investment in, the needs of Irish biodiversity research within the context of modern agriculture. As such, we feel that the project is a good model for future biodiversity research, addressing the need for information and an appropriate knowledge base to support practical environmental protection measures.
  • Publication
    Biotic homogenization destabilizes ecosystem functioning by decreasing spatial asynchrony
    Our planet is facing significant changes of biodiversity across spatial scales. Although the negative effects of local biodiversity (α diversity) loss on ecosystem stability are well documented, the consequences of biodiversity changes at larger spatial scales, in particular biotic homogenization, that is, reduced species turnover across space (β diversity), remain poorly known. Using data from 39 grassland biodiversity experiments, we examine the effects of β diversity on the stability of simulated landscapes while controlling for potentially confounding biotic and abiotic factors. Our results show that higher β diversity generates more asynchronous dynamics among local communities and thereby contributes to the stability of ecosystem productivity at larger spatial scales. We further quantify the relative contributions of α and β diversity to ecosystem stability and find a relatively stronger effect of α diversity, possibly due to the limited spatial scale of our experiments. The stabilizing effects of both α and β diversity lead to a positive diversity-stability relationship at the landscape scale. Our findings demonstrate the destabilizing effect of biotic homogenization and suggest that biodiversity should be conserved at multiple spatial scales to maintain the stability of ecosystem functions and services.
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