Library Dissertation Showcase

Quantifying changing biodiversity within the first 18 months of an agroforestry farming system after installation

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

The sustainability of agriculture within the UK is a major concern within the realms of ecosystem services and human wellbeing with severe impacts on field biodiversity. Agriculture is the most critical threat to UK biodiversity as intense production to maintain food security compromises ecosystem functionality. The practice of incorporating agroforests within agricultural landscapes is not a new biodiversity preservation tool however, it is one that is not utilised enough. Although literature acknowledges the benefits agroforests have on surrounding environments including the biodiversity within agroecosystems, agroforests in their early stages of development are not well documented or understood. In this experiment, biodiversity response to seasonality was quantified through biodiversity abundance and species richness. Within the Riseholme Lincolnshire agricultural field site, four different habitat quadrat locations were characterised by different levels of management and disturbance within the agroecosystem. These included: an agroforest, crop rotation, hedgerow and control. Biodiversity in these habitats was investigated at three subcategories: ‘on soil’ m-2, at a macrofauna level (>2mm) 2•kg-2 and at a microfauna level (<2mm) 2•kg-2. Consequently, this investigation presents the use of biological fauna abundance count and species richness analysis to characterise the impacts the agroforest has had on field potential 18 months after being setup. Output correlations suggested significance (p < 0.01) between the agroforest and the crop rotation ‘on soil’ biodiversity which was supported by variable species richness between the observed areas. In addition to seasonal variables impacting biodiversity, anthropogenic disturbances also contributed to this, most evident between July and September. Positive correlations (p <0.05) corresponded at a macrofauna level within the agroforest and the crop rotation. The agroforest provided protection to the crop rotation to some extent, as signs of connectivity between the agroforest and crop rotation both ‘on soil’ and at a macrofauna level were prominent. The hedge environment was used as comparative habitat. Biodiversity abundance changes at a microfauna level were less evident over the seasonal duration.

Key words: Biodiversity, Soil, Agriculture, Agroforestry, Crop rotation, Macrofauna, Microfauna, Connectivity, Hedgerow, Protection, Species richness

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