Alison Ke

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Effect of Land-Sparing Agriculture on Multiple Dimensions of Biodiversity
Department:
Forestry and Natural Resources, Statistics
Term:
Spring 2017

An increasing proportion of the world’s biodiversity is threatened by habitat loss, habitat degradation, and overexploitation resulting from human actions. The primary strategy to minimize biodiversity loss from these threats has been the establishment of protected areas, but only 12.5% of terrestrial land is currently protected, and the expansion of protected areas often results in significant economic opportunity costs, exacerbating poverty. “Land sharing” conservation strategies seek to maximize conservation effectiveness in unprotected lands by integrating resource production with biodiversity protection in the same land area. This approach contrasts with “land sparing” strategies, which aim to intensify agricultural yields in human-dominated landscapes in order to set aside additional land for strict protection. The debate over whether land sharing or land sparing is more effective for biodiversity conservation is unresolved and likely context-dependent. We use birds to investigate how taxonomic diversity (TD), functional diversity (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD) change as a function of land-sharing and land-sparing management types by comparing how TD, FD, and PD change in protected areas, commercial cattle ranches, and communal rangelands in a tropical savanna biodiversity hotspot. We evaluate (1) the difference in vegetation structure between protected areas, commercial cattle ranches, and communal rangelands, (2) the differences in bird TD, FD, and PD between the three management types, and (3) whether vegetation structure influences bird TD, FD, and PD.