Cascading effects of land use and climate change in farmland vertebrate communities

Project leader

Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 01/01/2018
Funding: 3219456 SEK


Farmland ecosystems provide a basic ecosystem service for mankind by producing food. This relies on ecosystem functions generated by abiotic and biotic interactions. However, land use and climate change can change resource availability and thereby strengthen or weaken interactions in a food chain (bottom-up impact). This may have indirect consequences by changed predation (top-down) in other food chains that respond differently to environmental change of resource avalability. This projects aims to identify how land use and climate change drives the relative abundance of vertebrates in farmlands, and its implication on bird populations. Birds, which are alternative prey for predators that mainly prey on voles, may provide an ecosystem service by limiting pest species, but many bird species are declining in the agricultural landscape. I will explore (1) vole abundance in relation to land use and primary productivity, (2) if interactions between small and midsized predators reduce predation risk, (3) direct and indirect effects of land use, mediated e.g. by vole abundance, on predation risk (4) combined impact of climate change on predation risk and prey abundance for birds over the past decades. Exploring these interactions can help us understand how environmental changes may cascade up and down through food webs, and hence how to manage ecosystems - an urgent issue, especially for farmlands, in a rapidly changing world.

Last updated on 2017-01-08 at 12:30