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Title: Ecosystem services and disservices in small-scale tropical agriculture
Author: Steward, Peter Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 7659
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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Small-scale farmlands are dynamic systems crucial to the food-security and livelihoods of more than two billion people and there is political pressure in many developing nations to consolidate and expand small farms into larger units of management. This could have consequences for agro-ecosystem processes and the ecosystem services and disservices that regulate crop production. This thesis aims to highlight and address these issues in smallholder farming landscapes, which are poorly studied and represent significant knowledge gaps. Research on pollination and biological control is biased towards large-scale systems, and biological control research shows a strong geographic bias to temperate developed nations, whilst pollination research is geographically more balanced. To have more impact on global issues of poverty and food-security, agricultural ecosystem service research needs to have a greater focus on small-scale farmed landscapes. In a low-input, small-scale farmed area of Kenya, the response to land-use intensification of insect groups important to ecosystem services and disservices for crop production was examined. Small ecotone pollinators responded negatively to intensification, but larger bees did not. Natural enemies did not show a strong negative response to land-use intensification, which suggested that low pesticide application rates allowed cultural species to persist in croplands. The functional richness of Hymenoptera and Coleoptera was highest in the most intensified land-use context, which provides support for the intermediate landscape complexity hypothesis. Functional evenness and trait-environment associations showed that phytophagous traits increased with land-use intensification and could be linked to increased ecosystem disservice if crops are consumed. Smallholder interviews showed that ecosystem disservices due to crop-raiding animals were a major problem and that attitudes to wildlife, elephants and protected areas became more negative with increasing proximity to large areas of wilderness. However, increasing the proportion of natural habitat in the vicinity of smallholdings moderated the negative effect of proximity to wilderness on attitudes towards protected areas. Thus, perceived ecosystem disservices may vary with land-sparing at different spatial scales (i.e., conserved habitat). Whilst this thesis demonstrates that land-use intensification of early stage small-scale farming landscapes affects human perceptions and attitudes towards nature and the taxonomic and functional composition of cropland insect communities, direct quantification of the crop yield and economic consequences of this is sorely needed. Assessment of actual vs. perceived ecosystem disservices would also aid the conservation measures needed to make land-sparing work.
Supervisor: Sait, Steven ; Benton, Tim Sponsor: BBSRC ; University of Leeds, Sustainable Agriculture Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available