BR-PhD1. Connecting biodiversity and ecosystem services: towards more sustainable agroecosystems

The landscape in Zona da Mata region (Brazil) can be understood as a dynamic mosaic of land uses, including secondary forest, pastures, coffee and agroforestry systems. Spatial patterns of such mosaics are determined by heterogeneous physical landscape features and shaped by the diversity in management practices and decisions made by individual farmers. Thus, a gradient of more biodiverse to overly simplified farms can be found in the region. These diverse farming systems contribute differently to local livelihoods and to the provision of ecosystem services (ES). Currently, we lack understanding on the incentives that farmers have to manage agrobiodiversity and the consequences of management for functional diversity and the provision of multiple ecosystem services.

Aims: the main aim is to assess the relationship between biodiversity, farmers’ perceptions and ecosystem services to inform the re-design of more sustainable agroecosystems capable to provide better quality of life and conservation of natural resources.

Methodology: We will conduct a livelihood typology to understand how socio-economic factors influence and relate to biodiversity in these agroecosystems. Together with farmers, the main ES for each land use unit will be identified and prioritized. In parallel, tree species presence and relative abundances will be combined with species functional trait data to estimate functional diversity properties for the selected landscape units and for relating it to the selected ES. Finally, the modelling tools Farm DESIGN and participatory serious gaming will be used to support co-innovations by exploring alternative scenarios and learning about their consequences in interaction with a diversity of actors.