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Grasslands enhance ecosystem service multifunctionality above and below ground in agricultural landscapes

Cite this dataset

Tamburini, Giovanni; Guillermo, Aguilera; Öckinger, Erik (2022). Grasslands enhance ecosystem service multifunctionality above and below ground in agricultural landscapes [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Managing agricultural landscapes that can integrate production, biodiversity conservation and the flow of ecosystem services (ES) is of paramount importance to simultaneously meet production goals and environmental challenges. However, the response of farmland biodiversity and multiple ES to land-use change at multiple spatial scales remains poorly understood.

2. We explored the effects of land use at local (grassland vs. oilseed rape fields) and landscape scale (cover of permanent grasslands) on the provision of biodiversity (plants, arthropods, birds), five ES (pollination, pest control, soil fertility, carbon storage and water regulation) and overall ES-multifunctionality.

3. ES-multifunctionality was higher in grasslands than in crop fields, by 25.2% above ground and by 106.1% below ground. Multiple threshold analyses highlighted a particularly poor level of performance for belowground functions in crop fields. This habitat type was however capable of providing numerous aboveground functions simultaneously, although at low levels of performance when compared to the maximum values recorded in the study. Grasslands supported higher biodiversity and provision of pollination, soil fertility, carbon storage and water regulation.

4. Landscape composition influenced the provision of multiple ES: a 10% increase in grassland cover in the landscape enhanced aboveground ES-multifunctionality by 11.0% in both habitats. In particular, grasslands cover in the landscape supported the provision of arthropod diversity, pollination and pest control provided by carabids.

5. Synthesis and applications: The results of this field study show the key importance of preserving seminatural grasslands in agricultural landscapes for the conservation of farmland biodiversity, for the protection of soils and the delivery of multiple ecosystem services critical for crop production. Maximization of multifunctionality necessitates the integration at the landscape scale (0.5-2 km) of seminatural patches within the intensively farmed agricultural matrix. This would require not only the protection of existing grasslands, but also their restoration in simplified landscapes. The promotion of mixed farming (i.e., both crop and livestock production) might increase semi-natural grassland cover at the landscape scale.



Swedish Research Council for Environment Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning