ECO-OLIVES - Ecological management of European olive agroforestry: linking biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and productivity
The globally increasing pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity that is mainly caused by agricultural expansion and intensification calls for more sustainable land use approaches. However, information on targeted ecological management and how to combine human needs and conservation efforts is still largely missing. Understanding interactions between predators and herbivores at multiple trophic levels is critical for managing ecosystem services such as pest control. These kind of ecosystem services are surprisingly poorly studied, even for key species groups such as birds and bats and cash crop systems of worldwide importance like European olive agroforestry. The project aims to close this knowledge gap by conducting a combined assessment of birds, bats, and arthropods in a main olive cultivation area in Italy, through three main approaches: (i) biodiversity assessments of birds, bats and arthropods; (ii) statistical modelling of multiple ecosystem services and related management options; (iii) development and application of decision-support tools to support ecological farming and land use. The study will be conducted in organic olive agroforestry systems that differ in their local and landscape management. Through transdisciplinary approaches such as the integration of field experiments, DNA barcoding, socio-ecological surveys and software applications, this project aims to contribute to improved sustainable land use and management within and beyond the study area. The results of this project will help to understand underlying ecological processes, derive recommendations on ecosystem services by flying vertebrates, contribute to biodiversity conservation and improve the awareness towards sustainable management approaches in agroforestry systems.
Supervisor team: Prof. Dr. Christian Voigt, Dr. Bea Maas
Time frame of the project: March 2023 – December 2026