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Seminatural habitat surrounding farms promotes multifunctionality in avian ecosystem services

Cite this dataset

Olimpi, Elissa et al. (2022). Seminatural habitat surrounding farms promotes multifunctionality in avian ecosystem services [Dataset]. Dryad.


Farmland birds can suppress insect pests, but may also consume beneficial insects, damage crops, and potentially carry foodborne pathogens. As bird communities shift in response to farming practices, so too do the benefits (services) and costs (disservices) from birds. Understanding how and why ecosystem services and disservices covary can inform management interventions that enhance synergies, avoid tradeoffs, and promote multifunctionality.

We investigated how farmland diversification practices influence the services and disservices provided by wild birds on 21 California strawberry farms. Specifically, we coupled 285 bird surveys, metabarcoding, and other molecular analyses of ~1,000 fecal samples representing 55 bird species (mostly passerines) to determine which individuals consumed pests, natural enemies, and crops and carried foodborne pathogens. Then, we explored how farming practices shape ecosystem service bundles, or suites of consistently co-occurring services/disservices.

Avian services and disservices were shaped by interactions between local farming practices and landscape context. We found that the amount of seminatural habitat surrounding each farm was the single most important driver of ecosystem services, with the best outcomes (highest multifunctionality) occurring on farms surrounded by seminatural habitat.

Bundles were primarily influenced by landscape context. Increasing seminatural habitat around farms was associated with more multifunctional bird communities that maximized services and minimized disservices. However, not all tradeoffs were minimized in landscapes with more seminatural habitat, suggesting that specific farming contexts can exacerbate or mitigate tradeoffs as bird communities shift in response to diversification practices.

Synthesis and applications: Though growers are often pressured to remove noncrop habitat to reduce food-safety risks, our work suggests that conserving habitat can support bird conservation, mitigate food-safety risks, and decrease crop damage from birds. More broadly, by considering the multiple roles that communities play in ecosystems, managers can simultaneously maximize services and minimize disservices to achieve multifunctionality.

Usage notes

README file describes the metadata for each of the data sets contained in this Dryad collection pertaining to the manuscript: "Seminatural habitat surrounding farms promotes multifunctionality in avian ecosystem services." Please see the manuscript and supporting information for methods on how the data were collected, processed, and analyzed. Geographic coordinates of farm locations were withheld to protect farmer privacy.



U.S. Department of Agriculture, Award: 2017-67019-26293

U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch, Award: KY008079

U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch, Award: CA-R-ENT-5091-H

Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis