Global biodiversity conservation cannot rely on protected natural and semi-natural areas alone, as sustainable conservation requires strategies for managing whole landscapes including areas allocated mainly to production or to urban development (Margules & Pressey 2000, Nature; Grimm et al. 2008, Science). On the one hand, nearly half of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is moulded by agriculture; so the contribution of agricultural areas to biodiversity is critical for successful long-term conservation (Tallis et al. 2009, Front. Ecol. Environ.). On the other hand, more than half of the human population live now in cities with urban areas comprising 3% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface (Johnson & Munshi-South 2017, Science).
Ecologists and conservation practitioners often view agricultural land or urbanised areas as a biological desert or a hostile matrix isolating habitat fragments. However, farming systems and urban green spaces may support high levels of biodiversity (Stoate et al. 2001, J. Environ. Manage.; Aronson et al. 2017, Proc. Roy. Soc. B). Urban areas can also act as reserves in some cases, for example bumble bee colonies have been shown to develop better and produce more offspring in urban areas than in agroecosystems (Samuelson et al. 2018, Proc. Roy. Soc. B). Both, agroecosystems and urbanised areas, may also provide environmental benefits and important ecosystem functions and services such as pollination and biological control (Klein et al. 2007, Proc. Roy. Soc. B; Tratalos et al. 2007, Global Change Biol.). Finally, both agricultural intensification and urbanisation are among the focal topics of EU’s research (see e.g. H2020 or BiodivERsA calls) highlighting the need of studying similarities and differences in agroecology and urban ecology.
In summary, this symposium aims to provide current knowledge about the effects of agricultural intensification and urbanization on biodiversity and ecosystems services while considering how these different disciplines can complement each other.
Bird responses to urbanization change depending on reference level, rural or natural
- Peter Batary (Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary)
Linking socioeconomic status and urban biodiversity: are rich areas species-rich?
- Dan Chamberlain (University of Turin, Italy)
Diverse opportunities for grassland biodiversity in agricultural and urban landscapes
- Remi Duflot (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)