Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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On the relationship between farmland biodiversity and land-use intensity in Europe

D Kleijn

D Kleijn

Alterra, Centre for Ecosystem StudiesDroevendaalsesteeg 3, PO Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Nijmegen UniversityToernooiveld 1, 6525 ED, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

[email protected]

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F Kohler

F Kohler

Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen UniversityBornsesteeg 69, 6708 PD, Wageningen, The Netherlands

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A Báldi

A Báldi

Animal Ecology Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungarian Natural History Museum1083 Budapest, Hungary

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P Batáry

P Batáry

Hungarian Natural History Museum 1083 Budapest, Hungary

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E.D Concepción

E.D Concepción

Instituto de Recursos NaturalesIRN-CCMA-CSIC, c/Serrano 115 bis, 28006 Madrid, Spain

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Y Clough

Y Clough

Department of Agroecology, University of GöttingenWaldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

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M Díaz

M Díaz

Instituto de Recursos NaturalesIRN-CCMA-CSIC, c/Serrano 115 bis, 28006 Madrid, Spain

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D Gabriel

D Gabriel

Department of Agroecology, University of GöttingenWaldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

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A Holzschuh

A Holzschuh

Department of Agroecology, University of GöttingenWaldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

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E Knop

E Knop

Agroscope FAL Reckenholz, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and AgricultureReckenholzstrasse 191, CH-8046 Zürich, Switzerland

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A Kovács

A Kovács

PhD School of Environmental Sciences, Szent István UniversityGödöllő, Hungary

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E.J.P Marshall

E.J.P Marshall

Marshall Agroecology Limited2 Nut Tree Cottages, Barton, Winscombe, Somerset BS25 1DU, UK

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T Tscharntke

T Tscharntke

Department of Agroecology, University of GöttingenWaldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

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J Verhulst

J Verhulst

Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen UniversityBornsesteeg 69, 6708 PD, Wageningen, The Netherlands

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Published:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2008.1509

    Worldwide agriculture is one of the main drivers of biodiversity decline. Effective conservation strategies depend on the type of relationship between biodiversity and land-use intensity, but to date the shape of this relationship is unknown. We linked plant species richness with nitrogen (N) input as an indicator of land-use intensity on 130 grasslands and 141 arable fields in six European countries. Using Poisson regression, we found that plant species richness was significantly negatively related to N input on both field types after the effects of confounding environmental factors had been accounted for. Subsequent analyses showed that exponentially declining relationships provided a better fit than linear or unimodal relationships and that this was largely the result of the response of rare species (relative cover less than 1%). Our results indicate that conservation benefits are disproportionally more costly on high-intensity than on low-intensity farmland. For example, reducing N inputs from 75 to 0 and 400 to 60 kg ha−1 yr−1 resulted in about the same estimated species gain for arable plants. Conservation initiatives are most (cost-)effective if they are preferentially implemented in extensively farmed areas that still support high levels of biodiversity.

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