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JB

Julie Botzas-Coluni

McGill University
The effects of farmland heterogeneity on ecosystem services

Julie Botzas-Coluni, Elena Bennett

Landscape simplification and the intensification of farming practices in agricultural landscapes is well-known to have negative effects on many ecosystem services. Given that re-introducing natural habitats in these landscapes is not feasible for many farmers, incorporating landscape heterogeneity in cropped areas may be a key lever to increase ecosystem service provision, but the details on how this lever can most effectively be applied remains unclear. Notably, the trade-offs that occur between different ecosystem services at different levels of farmland heterogeneity are unknown. Furthermore, evidence is needed on the scales at which heterogeneity is effective and how these effects interact with local management practices. Thus, we aimed to determine the effects of farmland heterogeneity, specifically crop diversity and mean field size, on key ecosystem services. We evaluated how these effects change at different scales and with different local management practices. We measured the ecosystem services of food production, soil fertility, water quality regulation, carbon storage, pollination and pest control in 32 soybean fields in sites along a gradient of farmland heterogeneity in the Monteregie, Quebec. We predicted that sites with higher heterogeneity would provide more regulating services due to a higher amount of habitat and floral resources, but may have lower food production. Early results demonstrate that spatial arrangement of landscapes is especially important for regulating services. Understanding the trade-offs that occur at different levels and scales of farmland heterogeneity will allow farmers and policy-makers to make better informed decisions and help them reverse the negative effects of landscape simplification.