Knapp, M., T. Teder, V. Lukas, M. Štrobl, J. Knappová, D. A. Landis, and E. González. 2023. Ecologically-Informed Precision Conservation: A framework for increasing biodiversity in intensively managed agricultural landscapes with minimal sacrifice in crop production. Biological Conservation 288:110343.

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Conservation actions are urgently needed to tackle biodiversity loss in intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Production lands are usually heterogeneous and contain low-yield areas that can be set aside for biodiversity conservation without serious yield losses. Here, we introduce Ecologically-Informed Precision Conservation, a framework that integrates yield mapping and ecological theory to select the best areas to create new set-asides while ensuring high crop yields at the farm/landscape level. Long-term yield maps can be generated using globally available satellite data and basic information on field/farm crop yield from farmers. Ecological principles are then used to select the subset of areas with the highest potential for biodiversity conservation by prioritising those that increase connectivity, maximise habitat heterogeneity and decrease landscape grain size. The created non-crop habitats can be permanent and thus ensure biodiversity support over time. In addition, agricultural management efficiency can be enhanced by improving field shapes. The framework provides the basis for a practical, user-friendly tool that informs all interested stakeholders on how to rationalise existing agricultural landscapes using already-existing farming systems and available technologies. High cost-effectiveness from an economic and conservation perspective, along with the creation of heterogeneous non-crop habitats, make our framework a promising solution to re-design agricultural landscapes.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110343

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