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Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Vol. 1249, No: xx, 2012, Pages: 191 - 203

Effects of organic farming on biodiversity and ecosystem services: taking landscape complexity into account

Winqvist C, Ahnström J, Bengtsson J

Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


The recent intensification of the arable landscape by modern agriculture has had negative effects on biodiversity. Organic farming has been introduced to mitigate negative effects, but is organic farming beneficial to biodiversity? In this review, we summarize recent research on the effects of organic farming on arable biodiversity of plants, arthropods, soil biota, birds, and mammals. The ecosystem services of pollination, biological control, seed predation, and decomposition are also included in this review. So far, organic farming seems to enhance the species richness and abundance of many common taxa, but its effects are often species specific and trait or context dependant. The landscape surrounding the focal field or farm also seems to be important. Landscape either enhances or reduces the positive effects of organic farming or acts via interactions where the surrounding landscape affects biodiversity or ecosystem services differently on organic and conventional farms. Finally, we discuss some of the potential mechanisms behind these results and how organic farming may develop in the future to increase its potential for sustaining biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.



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