COS 107-5 - The simultaneous effects of land-use intensification on biodiversity and production: A global meta-analysis

Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 2:50 PM
B110-111, Oregon Convention Center
Michael Beckmann1, Katharina Gerstner2, Morodoluwa Akin-Fajiye3, Silvia Ceausu2, Stephan Kambach4, Nicole L. Kinlock5, Helen R.P. Phillips2, Willem Verhagen6, Jessica Gurevitch3, Stefan Klotz7, Tim Newbold8, Peter Verburg6, Marten Winter2 and Ralf Seppelt1, (1)Computational Landscape Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany, (2)iDiv – German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Germany, (3)Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, (4)Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, (5)Ecology and Evolution, SUNY Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, (6)Earth Sciences, VU Amsterdam, Netherlands, (7)Department of Community Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, (8)United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre / Microsoft Research Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

One of the most hotly debated subjects in environmental science is how to optimize land-use to secure production of food and other goods while protecting biodiversity at the same time. As land conversion has slowed down, land-use intensification is becoming the predominant strategy to boost agricultural production. Previous syntheses have shown that the conversion of uncultivated land to agriculture leads to a 10-40% loss of biodiversity. Yet, there is surprisingly little known about the simultaneous effects land use intensification has on biodiversity and yield. We here try closing this knowledge gap by conducting a meta-analysis that synthesizes field studies that assessed changes in yield and biodiversity on the same patches of land, while providing information on the original land-use and the nature and level of its intensification. The meta-analysis synthesizes actual measurements of biodiversity and yield, rather than on extrapolated or modeled values, and includes 449 cases from 115 published studies across the globe.


A major message of this study is that so-called “win-win” strategies in which increased land use boosts yield but has no or even positive effects on biodiversity, are highly improbable. In contrast, averaged across all studies, intensification causes increases in yield (+20.3) and losses in biodiversity (-8.9%), which are both largest (-22.9%; +84.9%) if moderately used patches are subject to a small intensification increase. When a relatively natural patch is subject to increasing levels of modification, yield generally goes up while biodiversity goes down. Intensely modified patches show that those that are most natural to start with will give the biggest increase in yield and the biggest biodiversity loss. Our results underline that, while we must consider the value of managed land for biodiversity preservation more, seeking for an ultimate bargain poses the risk to lose remaining natural areas to land conversion.