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Conserv Biol. 2016 Jun;30(3):618-27. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12635. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Assessing strategies to reconcile agriculture and bird conservation in the temperate grasslands of South America.

Author information

1
University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology, Conservation Science Group, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom.
2
Current address: Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Laboratório de Ornitologia, sala 112, Avenida Ipiranga, 6681, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
3
Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Laboratório de Ornitologia, sala 112, Avenida Ipiranga, 6681, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, 90619-900, Brazil.

Abstract

Globally, agriculture is the greatest source of threat to biodiversity, through both ongoing conversion of natural habitat and intensification of existing farmland. Land sparing and land sharing have been suggested as alternative approaches to reconcile this threat with the need for land to produce food. To examine which approach holds most promise for grassland species, we examined how bird population densities changed with farm yield (production per unit area) in the Campos of Brazil and Uruguay. We obtained information on biodiversity and crop yields from 24 sites that differed in agricultural yield. Density-yield functions were fitted for 121 bird species to describe the response of population densities to increasing farm yield, measured in terms of both food energy and profit. We categorized individual species according to how their population changed across the yield gradient as being positively or negatively affected by farming and according to whether the species' total population size was greater under land-sparing, land-sharing, or an intermediate strategy. Irrespective of the yield, most species were negatively affected by farming. Increasing yields reduced densities of approximately 80% of bird species. We estimated land sparing would result in larger populations than other sorts of strategies for 67% to 70% of negatively affected species, given current production levels, including three threatened species. This suggests that increasing yields in some areas while reducing grazing to low levels elsewhere may be the best option for bird conservation in these grasslands. Implementing such an approach would require conservation and production policies to be explicitly linked to support yield increases in farmed areas and concurrently guarantee that larger areas of lightly grazed natural grasslands are set aside for conservation.

KEYWORDS:

Campos del Norte; Northern Campos; bird density; bird responses to yield; cattle ranching; densidad de aves; eucaliptos; eucalypt; ganadería; land sharing; land sparing; preservación de la tierra; respuestas de las aves a la cosecha; soya; tierras compartidas

PMID:
26400720
DOI:
10.1111/cobi.12635
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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