Appropriate metrics to inform farmers about species diversity
Lüscher G., Schneider MK., Turnbull LA., Arndorfer M., Bailey D., Herzog F., Pointereau P., Richner N., Jeanneret P.
Farmers are key players in actions to halt biodiversity loss from farmland. However, if farmers are to sustain biodiversity, they must first be adequately informed about biodiversity and understand its drivers. Measuring biodiversity at the farm scale is difficult because of the structural complexity of many farms, and because different aspects of diversity can be considered desirable, e.g. species richness or rarity. In this study we examined 19 grassland farms in Central Switzerland, and sampled plants, earthworms, spiders and bees using a stratified sampling design. We considered several metrics of species diversity, but found two particularly useful at farm scale: average richness (area-weighted) and farm uniqueness in terms of species identity. Average richness reflects the expected species richness in a random sample taken on the farm, and farm uniqueness is the contribution of a farm to the total species richness of all farms under study. Average richness and farm uniqueness are complementary and reflect different aspects of biodiversity. We demonstrate how combining these metrics enables tailored recommendations for enhancing species diversity on the farm. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.