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How bioregional history could shape the future of agriculture
chapterposted on 2023-10-06, 04:23 authored by J Brown, P Barton, SA Cunningham
Biodiversity conservation and agriculture are becoming intimately intertwined. Wildlife-friendly agriculture is promoted as a way to conserve biodiversity, connect nature reserves, facilitate climate-driven range shifts and enhance ecosystem services to agriculture. Yet some approaches that increase native biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, such as tropical agroforestry, may support a suite of species that is distinct from nearby remnant habitat. Wildlife-friendly farming, therefore, does not necessarily facilitate native species persistence through landscape conversion to agriculture or facilitate the movement of local species among nature reserves. We argue the historical composition of native species in agricultural landscapes can be maintained by enhancing ecological similarity between production land uses and natural ecosystems. Some agricultural systems already support native species from, and share some ecological attributes with, natural grasslands, wetlands and forests. However, we suggest there are benefits to be gained by focusing on the finer details of similarities in structure, floristic composition (e.g. crop species) and disturbance regimes occurring across natural and modified habitat types. A key advancement of this approach is that the composition of agricultural diversity and its spatio-temporal dynamics are selected and managed according to the spatial and temporal habitat requirements of the wildlife species naturally inhabiting the local area. We argue that ensuring ecological similarity between agricultural systems and the ecosystems they replaced or lie between will strengthen the capacity of agricultural landscapes to maintain historical species pools and provide spatial and temporal connectivity between nature reserves and analogous future climatic zones.