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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 17;108(20):8311-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016799108. Epub 2011 May 2.

Combining high biodiversity with high yields in tropical agroforests.

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  • 1Agroecology, Department of Crop Sciences, Institute of Geography, Cartography, Geographic Information System, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany. yclough@gwdg.de


Local and landscape-scale agricultural intensification is a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Controversially discussed solutions include wildlife-friendly farming or combining high-intensity farming with land-sparing for nature. Here, we integrate biodiversity and crop productivity data for smallholder cacao in Indonesia to exemplify for tropical agroforests that there is little relationship between yield and biodiversity under current management, opening substantial opportunities for wildlife-friendly management. Species richness of trees, fungi, invertebrates, and vertebrates did not decrease with yield. Moderate shade, adequate labor, and input level can be combined with a complex habitat structure to provide high biodiversity as well as high yields. Although livelihood impacts are held up as a major obstacle for wildlife-friendly farming in the tropics, our results suggest that in some situations, agroforests can be designed to optimize both biodiversity and crop production benefits without adding pressure to convert natural habitat to farmland.

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