11.11.2016 | TOP NEWS, Theory in Biodiversity Science, Experimental Interaction Ecology

Shift to monocultures makes small-scale agriculture in tropics less biodiversity-friendly than assumed

Smallholder's  farm with recently planted oil palms (photo: Andrew Barnes).

Smallholder's farm with recently planted oil palms (photo: Andrew Barnes).

Another oilpalm plantation on Sumatra, Indonesia (photo: Yann Clough).

Another oilpalm plantation on Sumatra, Indonesia (photo: Yann Clough).

Monoculture plantation of rubber trees on Sumatra (photo: Andrew Barnes).

Monoculture plantation of rubber trees on Sumatra (photo: Andrew Barnes).

Near-natural rainforest (photo: Andrew Barnes).

Near-natural rainforest (photo: Andrew Barnes).

In the lowland of Sumatra (Indonesia), deforestation has drastically advanced over the past 20 years. The main reason is the conversion of near-pristine forest to oil palm plantations. So far, studies on deforestation have usually focused on large-scale palm oil producers and how they exploit the forest and soil. Now, researchers have investigated the choice of agricultural methods of Indonesian small-scale farmers. Smallholder-dominated agricultural mosaic landscapes are often assumed to deliver economic goods while maintaining biodiversity.

The results of the new study, however, show that smallholder farmers more and more adopt the most profitable monocultures, namely oil palm and rubber tree plantations. These changes lead to higher crop production and incomes among smallholder farmers. However, they are accompanied by declines in diversity of plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, and unicellular organisms, declines in plant genetic diversity, and declines in multiple ecological functions. An international team of 40 researchers has reported these results in the journal Nature Communications. Among the authors are Dr. Andrew Barnes and Prof. Ulrich Brose from the German Centre of integrative Biodiversity research (iDiv), who are affiliated with the Leipzig University and the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena. Even though the study focused on Indonesia, there are equivalent problems in many other parts of the world.

Read more in the press release of the Lund University (in English): http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/small-scale-agriculture-threatens-the-rainforest

Read more in the press release of the University of Göttingen (in German): http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/3240.html?cid=5663

 

Publication:

Clough, Yann, Vijesh V. Krishna, Marife D. Corre, Kevin Darras, Lisa H. Denmead, Ana Meijide, Stefan Moser, Oliver Musshoff, Stefanie Steinebach, Edzo Veldkamp, Kara Allen, Andrew D. Barnes, Natalie Breidenbach, Ulrich Brose, Damayanti Buchori, Rolf Daniel, Reiner Finkeldey, Idham Harahap, Dietrich Hertel, A. Mareike Holtkamp, Elvira Hörandl, Bambang Irawan, I. Nengah Surati Jaya, Malte Jochum, Bernhard Klarner, Alexander Knohl, Martyna M. Kotowska, Valentyna Krashevska, Holger Kreft, Syahrul Kurniawan, Christoph Leuschner, Mark Maraun, Dian Nuraini Melati, Nicole Opfermann, César Pérez-Cruzado, Walesa Edho Prabowo, Katja Rembold, Akhmad Rizali, Ratna Rubiana, Dominik Schneider, Sri Sudarmiyati Tjitrosoedirdjo, Aiyen Tjoa, Teja Tscharntke & Stefan Scheu. Land-use choices follow profitability at the expense of ecological functions in Indonesian smallholder landscapes. Nat. Commun. 7, 13137 doi: 10.1038/ncomms13137 (2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further information:

Prof. Ulrich Brose, PhD

Head of the research group Theory in Biodiversity Science at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Professor for Theory in Biodiversity Science at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

Tel. +49 341 9733 205

https://www.idiv.de/the-centre/employees/details/eshow/brose-ulrich.html

 and

Andrew Barnes, PhD (only English)

Postdoctoral research associate in the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Leipzig University

Tel.: +49 341 9733 122

www.idiv.de/en/the-centre/employees/details/eshow/barnes-andrew.html

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