Project: Landscape-scale biodiversity and the balancing of provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services

The European agricultural landscape comprises a mosaic of intensively and extensively used areas involving spatially and temporally very dynamic and complex interactions of organisms, abiotic processes, ecosystems, and human beings. We hypothesize that extensively and intensively managed agricultural landscapes differ in their provisioning (e.g. yield), regulating (e.g. soil erosion) and supporting (e.g. nutrient cycles) ecosystem services. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the combination of intensively and extensively used areas in the agricultural landscape improves the economic and environmental sustainability of agricultural landscapes by using biodiversity-driven ecosystem services to e.g. reduce fertilizer application. We will focus on two contrasting agricultural landscape types differing in management strategies: extensively managed landscapes comprising agricultural fields that receive low input of fertilizers, reduced chemical plant protection and soil management (e.g. no-tillage), natural (e.g. forest patches, in-field ponds) and semi-natural areas such as permanent grasslands; and in contrast, intensively managed landscapes comprising intensively managed agricultural fields with high input of fertilizers and chemical plant-protection products as well as intensive soil management (e.g. regular tillage) in addition to natural and semi-natural areas. The distribution of intensively and extensively managed agricultural landscapes varies across Europe and is strongly linked to, among others, socio-economic conditions (e.g. short and flexible renting contracts) and environmental conditions. We aim at quantifying the relative contribution of provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services delivered by extensively and intensively managed agricultural landscapes across Europe. Additionaly, we will assess the fostering and hindering socio-political conditions for such ecosystem services and compare them across Europe. Our project will shed light on the “land sharing versus land sparing” debate and will provide suggestions for increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of agricultural landscapes by improving land-use policies at regional, national and European scales. •We will test whether forests, semi-natural areas and natural patches in agricultural fields (e.g. in-field water bodies), are stepping stones for belowground microbial re-colonization of intensively used areas after disturbance (hidden veins). •We will assess the sustainable use of natural resources such as water and nitrogen in the landscape by measuring the temporal and spatial distribution of nitrogen in soil, plant and water across systems. •We will determine biotic and abiotic processes providing ecosystem services for intensively and extensively managed agricultural fields scales, including soil microbial properties and the physiological assessment of crops, weeds and natural vegetation. •We will compare the spatial and temporal soil microbial and plant diversity between extensively and intensively managed agricultural landscapes by performing landscape trait-based analyses across Europe. •We will identify and compare the political and governance structures that determine the provision of ecosystem services and trigger a debate among researchers and agricultural and conservationist stakeholders on how to support these ecosystem services.

Acronym BASIL
Duration 01/05/2015 - 30/04/2018
Website visit project website
Network BiodivERsA2
Call Promoting Synergies and Reducing Trade-offs Between Food Supply, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (Joint Call between BiodivERs and FACCE-JPI)

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
French National Institute for Agricultural Research France
Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research Germany
Georg-August-University Göttingen Germany
Free University of Berlin Germany
University of Potsdam Coordinator Germany
Spanish National Research Council - Estación Experimental de Aula Dei Spain
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Switzerland
University of Lleida Spain