Spatial ecology in a changing world

New Article: Functional heterogeneity in farmland landscapes.

Heterogeneity in farmland has been identified as a key feature behind biodiversity patterns hosted in such humanised systems. In a new article published in Ecology letters, an international team of researchers addresses the concept of functional heterogeneity as a key to understand and assess how complex landscapes determine biodiversity patterns.

Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes can be increased with conversion of some production lands into ‘more-natural’– unmanaged or extensively managed – lands. However, it remains unknown to what extent biodiversity can be enhanced by altering landscape pattern without reducing agricultural production. We propose a framework for this problem, considering separately compositional heterogeneity (the number and proportions of different cover types) and configurational heterogeneity (the spatial arrangement of cover types). Cover type classification and mapping is based on species requirements, such as feeding and nesting, resulting in measures of ‘functional landscape heterogeneity’.

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We then identify three important questions: does biodiversity increase with (1) increasing heterogeneity of the more-natural areas, (2) increasing compositional heterogeneity of production cover types and (3) increasing configurational heterogeneity of production cover types? We discuss approaches for addressing these questions. Such studies should have high priority because biodiversity protection globally depends increasingly on maintaining biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes


Nou article sobre heterogeneïtat funcional en paisatges agrícoles.

L’heterogeneïtat del paisatge ha estat identificada en paisatges agrícoles com un element clau al darrera dels patrons de biodiversitat descrits en aquests sistemes tant humanitzat.  En aquest nou article redactat per un equip d’investigadors internacionals i publicat a la revista Ecology letters,  s’analitza el concepte d’heterogeneïtat funcional com a clau per entendre i analitzar com la complexitat a nivell de paisatge determina els patrons de biodiversitat.

Fahrig, L., Baudry, J., Brotons, L., Burel, F.,Crist, T.O., Fuller, R., Sirami, C., Siriwardena, G.M. & Martin, J.L. 2010. Functional landscape heterogeneity and animal biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Ecology Letters, DOI:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01559.x

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