The functioning of European grassland ecosystems: Potential benefits of biodiversity to agriculture
Minns A., Finn J., Hector A., Caldeira M., Joshi J., Palmborg C., Schmid B., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Spehn E., Troumbis A.
About half the farmland of Europe is grassland pasture or hay meadow, and much is impoverished in plant species due to the addition of fertilizers and pesticides, agricultural re-sowing, habitat fragmentation, land abandonment and changes in grazing andmowing regimes. Given this widespread reduction, it is important to understand the effect that loss of biodiversity is having upon our wider environment. Here the authors summarize the main results from the BIODEPTH project, the first multinational, large-scale experiment to examine directly the relationship between plant diversity and the processes that determine the functioning of ecosystems. The results suggest that preserving and restoring grassland diversity may be beneficial to maintaining desirable levels of several ecosystem processes, and may therefore have applications in land management and agriculture.