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Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 24;5:4151. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5151.

Gains to species diversity in organically farmed fields are not propagated at the farm level.

Author information

1
Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zurich, Switzerland.
2
1] Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zurich, Switzerland [2] Institute of Evolutionary Biology & Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
3
University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences, Gregor Mendel Strasse 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria.
4
Institut National de Recherche en Génie Rural, Eaux et Forêts, Rue Hédi Karray, BP 10, Ariana 2080, Tunisie.
5
Institute of Environmental & Landscape Management, Szent Istvan University, Páter Károly u. 1, 2100 Gödöllö, Hungary.
6
Lendület Ecosystem Services Research Group, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Alkotmány u. 2-4, 2163 Vácrátót, Hungary.
7
INRA, UMR 1201 Dynafor, Chemin de Borde-Rouge, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France.
8
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DD, UK.
9
Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, PO Box 115, 1431 Ås, Norway.
10
1] Alterra, Wageningen UR, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands [2] Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Technopôle Arbois-Méditerranée, Bât. Villemin-BP 80, 13545 Aix-en-Provence, France.
11
1] Department of Biology, Padova University, via U. Bassi 58/b, 35121 Padova, Italy [2] Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, ICTA ICTA-ICP, Edifici Z Carrer de les columnes, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès - Barcelona), Spain.
12
Forestry School, University of Extremadura, Av. Virgen del Puerto 2, 10600 Plasencia, Spain.
13
1] Institute of Evolutionary Biology & Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland [2] Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK.
14
Alterra, Wageningen UR, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
15
Department of Soil Science, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.
16
Centre of Life and Food Science, Technical University of Munich, Alte Akademie 12, 85354 Freising, Germany.
17
Department of Biology, Padova University, via U. Bassi 58/b, 35121 Padova, Italy.
18
SOLAGRO, Initiatives and Innovations for Energy, Agriculture and Environment, 75 Voie du TOEC, 31076 Toulouse, France.
19
1] Toulouse University; ENSAT; UMR 1248 AGIR, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France [2] INRA, UMR 1248 AGIR, Chemin de Borde-Rouge, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France.

Abstract

Organic farming is promoted to reduce environmental impacts of agriculture, but surprisingly little is known about its effects at the farm level, the primary unit of decision making. Here we report the effects of organic farming on species diversity at the field, farm and regional levels by sampling plants, earthworms, spiders and bees in 1470 fields of 205 randomly selected organic and nonorganic farms in twelve European and African regions. Species richness is, on average, 10.5% higher in organic than nonorganic production fields, with highest gains in intensive arable fields (around +45%). Gains to species richness are partly caused by higher organism abundance and are common in plants and bees but intermittent in earthworms and spiders. Average gains are marginal +4.6% at the farm and +3.1% at the regional level, even in intensive arable regions. Additional, targeted measures are therefore needed to fulfil the commitment of organic farming to benefit farmland biodiversity.

PMID:
24958283
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms5151
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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