Agricultural ecosystems for biodiversity conservation

Duran, A. P., Duffy, J. P. & Gaston, K. J. (2014) Exclusion of agricultural lands in spatial conservation prioritization strategies: consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem service representation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281 (1792), 20141529.

PastedGraphic-1Agroecosystems have traditionally been considered incompatible with biological conservation goals, and often been excluded from spatial conservation prioritization strategies. The consequences for the representativeness of identified priority areas have been little explored. Here, we evaluate these for biodiversity and carbon storage representation when agricultural land areas are excluded from a spatial prioritization strategy for South America. Comparing different prioritization approaches, we also assess how the spatial overlap of priority areas changes. The exclusion of agricultural lands was detrimental to biodiversity representation, indicating that priority areas for agricultural production overlap with areas of relatively high occurrence of species. By contrast, exclusion of agricultural lands benefits representation of carbon storage within priority areas, as lands of high value for agriculture and carbon storage overlap little. When agricultural lands were included and equally weighted with biodiversity and carbon storage, a balanced representation resulted. Our findings suggest that with appropriate management, South American agroecosystems can significantly contribute to biodiversity conservation.