B01: Agricultural biodiversity and associated services across rural-urban landscapes - field and modelling studies

Biodiversity and agriculture are closely interrelated, because biodiversity is critical for agriculture, while agriculture can also contribute to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. As urbanization is a major driver of land cover change worldwide, maintaining agriculture within and around cities has received growing interest. Along rural-urban gradients, agricultural intensification should be higher and spillover from surrounding landscapes more limited, affecting functional biodiversity. We hypothesize that the socio-ecological viability of production system depends on sustaining ecosystem services, which are related to functional biodiversity provided by the diversity of bees and pest enemies and their interactions.

Here, we assess the planned and associated biodiversity in diverse versus simple cropping systems along the rural-urban interface (closely collaborating with A01, B02, C05, C02 and C01). Monitoring of crop systems, experimental field studies, manipulating pollinators and pest control agents, and a spatial-temporal model will be used to quantify how pollination contributes to crop yield, while further ecosystem services such as biological pest control are also considered. Plant-pollinator and pollinator-enemy interaction webs, community-based functional trait analyses as well as pollination and biocontrol exclusion experiments on phytometer plants will exhibit how pollination and biocontrol affects yield and vulnerability of the smallholders’ households.

We plan to develop model rules on the enhancement of fruit set and crop yield by pollination, while considering pest control. Simple simulation models should illustrate the effects of urban sprawl and associated changes in the spatial distribution of agricultural fields as well as of city elements such as buildings and parks. Scenarios should show the impact of increasing land sealing versus greening the city with parks and agriculture on pollination and biological control, which may serve as a spatial connector in social-ecological systems. In close collaboration with the other FOR2432 groups, model scenarios may show how changing socio-economic context (education, poverty, food prices, political constraints, religion, migration) affects changes of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Particularly interesting will be the joint valuations of specialization versus diversification in production systems as well as agrochemical-based intensification strategies. The expected outcome of this project is a survey of biodiversity services and disservices of urban versus rural agriculture, balancing ecological and human needs and informing sustainable urban planning strategies.

Indian partner project:
Plant and insect diversity in agro-ecosystems along the rural-urban interface
K.N. Ganeshaiah, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore

S. Devy, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore