Saturday, January 20, 2007

The impact of farming on biodiversity

Globally, the demand for food is expected to double by 2050, which could require the conversion of an additional 10 billion hectares of natural ecosystems to cropland. With 37% of the available land already under agriculture, agroecosystems represent an important component of global biodiversity. Since agricultural intensification is usually associated with biodiversity declines, being able to estimate the effects of land use change on biodiversity is an important tool for land management. In the latest issue of Science, Butler et al. were able to use six historical measures of agricultural land use change to successfully explain population changes in 57 bird species over the a forty-year period.