Royal Society Publishing

Benefits of organic farming to biodiversity vary among taxa

R.J Fuller, L.R Norton, R.E Feber, P.J Johnson, D.E Chamberlain, A.C Joys, F Mathews, R.C Stuart, M.C Townsend, W.J Manley, M.S Wolfe, D.W Macdonald, L.G Firbank

Abstract

Habitat and biodiversity differences between matched pairs of organic and non-organic farms containing cereal crops in lowland England were assessed by a large-scale study of plants, invertebrates, birds and bats. Habitat extent, composition and management on organic farms was likely to favour higher levels of biodiversity and indeed organic farms tended to support higher numbers of species and overall abundance across most taxa. However, the magnitude of the response varied; plants showed larger and more consistent responses than other taxa. Variation in response across taxa may be partly a consequence of the small size and isolated context of many organic farms. Extension of organic farming could contribute to the restoration of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.

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Footnotes

    • Received May 10, 2005.
    • Accepted June 10, 2005.
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