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Irrigation and maize cultivation erode plant diversity within crops in Mediterranean dry cereal agro-ecosystems

AuthorsFagúndez, Jaime; Olea, Pedro P.; Mateo-Tomás, Patricia
High nature value farming
Cereal-steppe agroecosystems
Farmland biodiversity
Alien species
Issue Date2016
CitationEnvironmental Management 58(1): 164-174 (2016)
AbstractThe intensification of agriculture has increased production at the cost of environment and biodiversity worldwide. To increase crop yield in dry cereal systems, vast farmland areas of high conservation value are being converted into irrigation, especially in Mediterranean countries. We analyze the effect of irrigation-driven changes on the farm biota by comparing species diversity, community composition, and species traits of arable plants within crop fields from two contrasting farming systems (dry and irrigated) in Spain. We sampled plant species within 80 fields of dry wheat, irrigated wheat, and maize (only cultivated under irrigation). Wheat crops held higher landscape and per field species richness, and beta diversity than maize. Within the same type of crop, irrigated wheat hosted lower plant diversity than dry wheat at both field and landscape scales. Floristic composition differed between crop types, with higher frequencies of perennials, cosmopolitan, exotic, wind-pollinated and C species in maize. Our results suggest that irrigation projects, that transform large areas of dry cereal agro-ecosystems into irrigated crop systems dominated by maize, erode plant diversity. An adequate planning on the type and proportion of crops used in the irrigated agro-ecosystems is needed in order to balance agriculture production and biodiversity conservation.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s00267-016-0691-5
e-issn: 1432-1009
issn: 0364-152X
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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