Biodiversity and ecosystem services in fruit farms: the roles of management and semi-natural habitats.

Zielonka, Natalia Barbara (2023) Biodiversity and ecosystem services in fruit farms: the roles of management and semi-natural habitats. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Agriculture occupies 40% of the Earth’s land, and habitat loss, landscape homogenisation and agrochemical use associated with agricultural expansion and intensification are leading biodiversity threats. Research is needed to inform a shift from agricultural land devoid of life, to biodiversity-rich landscapes that are managed in ways that maximise biodiversity’s benefits to production and human wellbeing. In this thesis, we combine active bird and arthropod surveys and passive acoustic monitoring to study biodiversity responses to landscape and management variables across two relatively novel perennial agricultural systems: grape and mango farms in north-eastern Brazil, and vineyards in England. Firstly, we demonstrate that the expansion of fruticulture within the Caatinga biome has a detrimental effect on bird communities and may be fuelling the homogenisation of bird assemblages. Secondly, we show that organic management is not a sustainable approach to English viticulture, as we find organic vineyards to have significantly lower yields, but without consistent biodiversity benefits. Similarly, we show that accreditation through an industry sustainability scheme is not a reliable, nor an intuitive predictor of biodiversity benefits or of biodiversity-friendly management. Instead, we identify ecotoxicity derived from agrochemical use and ground vegetation cover to be the most important drivers of arthropod and bird biodiversity. Biodiversity can be associated with both benefits and costs to crop production, and through exclusion experiments, we show that under certain conditions, an influx of grape-eating bird species at harvest can significantly reduce yields, which optimised vineyard design and targeted management could address. Importantly, we demonstrate that visitors’ experience of vineyard tours is enhanced by more complex soundscapes linked to higher bird species richness, and so bird conservation measures could help boost visitors’ experience and contribute to business prosperity. Taken together, this thesis makes direct recommendations for incorporating biodiversity conservation into the management of perennial fruit farms and suggests how payment-driven schemes could support the delivery of these recommendations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2024 13:32
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 13:32


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