Gains to species diversity in organically farmed fields are not propagated at the farm level

Manuel Schneider, Gisela Luscher, Philippe Jeanneret, Michaela Arndorfer, Youssef Ammari, Debra Bailey, Katalin Balázs, András Báldi, Jean-Philippe Choisis, Peter Dennis, Sebastian Eiter, Wendy Fjellstad, Mariecia Dawn Fraser, Thomas Frank, Jürgen K. Friedel, Salah Garchi, Gergely Jerkovich, Tiziano Gomiero, A. Hector, R. G. H. JongmanEsezah Kakudidi, Max Kainz, A. Kovács-Hostyánszki, Gerardo Moreno, Charles Nkwiine, Julius Opio, M.-L. Oschatz, Maurizio Paoletti, Philippe Pointereau, Jean-Pierre Sarthou, Norman Siebrecht, D. Sommaggio, L.A. Turnbull, Sebastian Wolfrum, Felix Herzog, Ilse R. Geijzendorffer, Guillermo González-Bornay, Fernando Pulido

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Abstract

Organic farming is promoted to reduce environmental impacts of agriculture, but surprisingly little is known about its effects at the farm level, the primary unit of decision making. Here we report the effects of organic farming on species diversity at the field, farm and regional levels by sampling plants, earthworms, spiders and bees in 1470 fields of 205 randomly selected organic and nonorganic farms in twelve European and African regions. Species richness is, on average, 10.5% higher in organic than nonorganic production fields, with highest gains in intensive arable fields (around +45%). Gains to species richness are partly caused by higher organism abundance and are common in plants and bees but intermittent in earthworms and spiders. Average gains are marginal +4.6% at the farm and +3.1% at the regional level, even in intensive arable regions. Additional, targeted measures are therefore needed to fulfil the commitment of organic farming to benefit farmland biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4151
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Volume5
Issue numberN/A
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2014

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