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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment



ISSN: 0167-8809 (1873-2305)
Agriculture, Multidisciplinary - Ecology - Environmental Sciences - Animal Science and Zoology - Agronomy and Crop Science - Ecology

Recent articles

1 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 27999966
Publication date: Available online 8 October 2018

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Author(s): Yulong Yan, Hasbagan Ganjurjav, Guozheng Hu, Yan Liang, Yu Li, Shicheng He, Luobu Danjiu, Jie Yang, Qingzhu Gao
2 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 28734099
Publication date: Available online 15 December 2018

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Author(s): Yong Zhang, Shuikui Dong, Qingzhu Gao, Hasbagan Ganjurjav, Xuexia Wang, Wei Geng

Ecological roles of “rare biosphere” (RB) were rarely discussed in alpine grassland ecosystems. We explored the roles of RB and specific taxa of soil bacteria and fungi in regulating soil nutrients and aboveground biomass of an alpine meadow and alpine steppe under warming and enhanced rainfall scenarios on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. In the context of alpine meadow and alpine steppe, the relative abundance of bacterial RB was ∼40% in the bacterial community, and it was <10% for fungal RB in the fungal community. The relative abundance of the RB of soil bacteria and fungi were not changed by warming or enhanced rainfall. All specific bacterial taxa and over 90% specific fungal taxa belonged to the RB. The RB, including the most specific taxa, explained many more variations in the contents of soil NO3-N and NH4-N than the high abundant microbial species under warming and enhanced rainfall conditions. The aboveground biomass of the alpine meadow and steppe were strongly affected by the contents of soil NO3-N, available phosphorus and total nitrogen under the condition of warming and enhanced rainfall. Our findings suggest that the robust soil microbial RB plays an important role in regulating the content of soil available nitrogen, which could profoundly affect aboveground plant biomass of alpine grassland ecosystems under climate change conditions.
3 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 28872905
Publication date: Available online 30 December 2018

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Author(s): Jingjing Li, Chao Yang, Xiaoli Liu, Xinqing Shao

The increase in atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition and precipitation is obvious in the eastern Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. The response of different plant functional groups to increased N deposition and precipitation and the mechanism of N and phosphorus (P) stoichiometry are not yet clear. We examined the effects of the addition of N and water on plant diversity, community productivity and plant N:P stoichiometry of functional groups in an alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. Our results indicate that N and water additions significantly increased the total above-ground productivity and biomass of grasses in both years but decreased the biomass of forbs in 2018. In addition, plant diversity decreased with a high level of N addition, and the interactions of N and water had a weakening effect on the decline of plant diversity. Plant diversity was negatively correlated with the biomass of grasses. Our results demonstrate that the biomass of grasses showed a negative quadratic relationship with the N:P ratio of grasses, suggesting that addition of N and water shifted the grasses from N-limited to P-limited. The biomass of forbs showed significant positive correlations with the N:P ratio of forbs, implying the forbs still remained N limited. Overall, our study suggests that the response of grasses and forbs to water and N additions is inconsistent from the perspective of plant N:P stoichiometry.
4 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29230673
Publication date: Available online 2 February 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Author(s): Xiaoxia Gao, Shikui Dong, Yudan Xu, Shengnan Wu, Xiaohui Wu, Xi Zhang, Yangliu Zhi, Shuai Li, Shiliang Liu, Yu Li, Zhanhuan Shang, Quanmin Dong, Huakun Zhou, Paul Stufkens

Resilience is crucial to promote the ecosystem sustainability and maintain ecosystem functions and services. Clarifying the variation regularity of the resilience can provide a theory foundation for the restoration and management of degraded ecosystems. Grassland cultivation has been largely used to restore extensively distributed “Black Beach”, the severely degraded alpine meadow on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). However, few researchers have documented the resilience of the revegetated grasslands along the succession gradients. In this study, we surveyed the revegetated grasslands on the QTP at different restoration times: 4-year, 6-year, 9-year, 12-year, 13-year, 14-year, 16-year, 18-year by using chronosequence approach to identify the resilience of the revegetated grasslands from the perspectives of plant and soil quality. We treated “Black Beach” as the baseline for restoration, and non-degraded healthy alpine meadow as the target for the restoration. We used the MDS method to identify the appropriate indicators and created an integrated assessment system that quantified the resilience of plant, soil, plant-soil system of the revegetated grasslands at different recovery years. The results showed that the non-linear resilience of revegetated grasslands were identified for the plant, soil and plant-soil systems along the temporal gradients. The plant resilience of the revegetated grasslands peaked at the 12th recovery year. The soil of the revegetated grasslands was superior to severely degraded grasslands after 13 years of revegetation. Asynchrony existed between the resilience of soil and that of the plant along the temporal gradients. The plant-soil system resilience of the revegetated grasslands peaked at the 16th recovery year. From the perspectives of plant, soil, plant-soil system, the recovery time of severely degraded grassland should be at least 16–18 years to reach a relative stable state. Revegetated grassland can be used as an effective restoration approach to improve the quality and resilience of plant and soil in the severely degraded alpine meadow on the QTP.
5 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29487868
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Shuailin Li, Shuo Wang, Zhouping Shangguan

Biochar has been proposed to ameliorate soil properties and plant growth. However, it remains unclear how the interaction between biochar and nitrogen (N) fertilizer impacts soil inorganic nitrogen (SIN) leaching and availability in dryland systems. Therefore, a two-year field experiment was carried out on the Loess Plateau in northern China to study the effects of biochar combined with N fertilizer on the leaching and availability of SIN. Biochar applied at 0, 20 and 40 t ha−1 (B0, B1 and B2, respectively) interacted with three N fertilization levels (0, 120 and 240 kg N ha−1; N0, N1 and N2, respectively). Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was cultivated in a winter wheat-summer fallow cropping system. We measured wheat aboveground biomass and residual SIN in the soil profile (0–60 cm at 10 cm intervals) using standard extraction methods (2 M KCL, shaking at 25 °C for 1 h). Additionally, to ascertain whether field-aged biochar captured SIN and to determine residual SIN availability, we also used a modified extraction method (2 M KCL, shaking at 60 °C for 2 h) and ion exchange membranes (IEMs) to extract SIN from plow layer soil (0–20 cm). Our results indicated that biochar application alone in the absence of N fertilization had no significant effect on wheat biomass or residual SIN in the soil profile. However, compared with the application of N fertilizer alone, the application of biochar at 20 t ha-1 combined with N fertilizer not only increased wheat biomass by 12.2–13.8% but also significantly decreased residual NO3
−-N in the subsoil by 13.2–74.7%. Nevertheless, long-term N fertilization at 240 kg N ha-1 led to large amounts of residual NO3
−-N without a significant increase in crop biomass, which inevitably increased the risk of leaching during the fallow period. Although the application of biochar at 40 t ha-1 combined with N fertilizer more effectively decreased residual SIN in the subsoil, this approach was impractical because it decreased wheat biomass. Furthermore, the difference between NO3
−-N extracted via the modified method and via the standard method increased with biochar application under each N level. Thus, field-aged biochar absorbed a certain amount of NO3
−-N, thereby sequestering N in the soil after two years of N fertilization. Hence, biochar could reduce the residual NO3
−-N available for leaching during the fallow period. However, notably, overuse of biochar could reduce the amount of NO3
−-N available not only for leaching but also for crops. Ultimately, the application of biochar at 20 t ha-1 combined with N fertilization at 120 kg N ha-1 is a promising dual-win strategy for improving N availability while concurrently mitigating SIN leaching.
6 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29487869
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Chloe F. Sato, Craig L. Strong, Pandora Holliday, Daniel Florance, Jenny Pierson, David B. Lindenmayer

Domestic livestock grazing is one of the dominant forms of land use globally. However, there are variable findings concerning the impacts of different grazing regimes on soil condition. We quantified the impacts of contrasting livestock grazing regimes on soil properties within nationally endangered temperate box-gum woodlands in south-eastern Australia. We sampled total soil nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon and bulk density at 65 woodland sites with a history of either continuous, strategic or rotational livestock grazing, as well as livestock grazing exclusion. We evaluated the influence of both historical and current management practices upon soil properties in the context of broad-scale soil forming factors such as climate, geology and topography.
We found evidence of a strong relationship between total soil phosphorus and nitrogen, while phosphorus also was influenced by site-scale native tree cover. Total soil phosphorus and nitrogen were related to the combined effects of pasture type and long-term fertilizer history (>10 years prior to sampling). No significant differences in soil nutrients or bulk density were detected between different grazing treatments, likely due to the importance of total grazing pressure (i.e. from all exotic and native herbivores) and the level of environmental variation between sites. However, total soil phosphorus was significantly higher in soils sampled in the season following a grazing event, irrespective of grazing intensity or duration. Total soil nitrogen and carbon exhibited a similar pattern. This is likely a result of multiple processes such as direct input of organic matter to the soil and stimulation of soil microbial communities. These findings have important implications for the strategic management of woodland understorey vegetation as soil nutrients have been identified as important drivers of native plant diversity.
7 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29487870
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Selvakumar Dhandapani, Karl Ritz, Stephanie Evers, Sofie Sjögersten

Tropical peatlands are globally important for their high carbon storage and unique biodiversity, but are currently under severe threat in South East Asia from expansion of oil palm plantations. A large part of this expansion in Peninsular Malaysia arises from small-holder oil palm plantations that follow varied cropping practices, yet their impact on the environment is largely unexplored. This research aimed to study and evaluate the environmental and belowground microbial impacts of different smallholder cropping systems relative to forested peatlands in North Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. Specifically, GHG measurements using closed chambers, and peat sampling were carried out in both wet and dry seasons. Microbial phenotypic community structure was determined using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Relative to forested peatlands, the agricultural plantations had increased pH, temperature and bulk density, decreased organic content, and peat moisture, with a pineapple intercropping site as the only exception. These effects were most pronounced in 2nd generation mono-cropping systems. Soil microbial community structure, dominated by Gram-positive bacteria under all land-use types, differed significantly between agricultural sites and forest, and also showed significant seasonal variation. There was a general increase in non-specific fatty acids and a decrease in Gram-positive fatty acids in agricultural sites from forest, however microbial community structure were similar in most agricultural sites. CO2 emissions were greatest at the forest site and showed no seasonal variations, however most of the forest CO2 emissions were most likely due to high autotrophic contribution from roots. CH4 emissions were under 1 mg m−2 h−1 for all the agricultural sites, while forest peat surface absorbed similar low quantity of CH4. Overall, the changes in peat properties and loss of C was greatest in the 2nd generation mono-cropping, while the intercropping systems ameliorated these effects by maintaining most of the forest peat organic content and causing relatively smaller changes in pH, moisture and bulk density. It is clear that oil palm intercropping have an ameliorating effect on environmental impacts caused by the expansion of oil palm plantations into peatlands.
8 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29553170
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Jian Wang, Bojie Fu, Nan Lu, Shuai Wang, Li Zhang

Knowledge of the processes underlying plant water use characteristics is critical for understanding soil–plant interactions and evaluating plant adaptability in water-limited ecosystems. The vegetation on the Loess Plateau has -dramatically changed due to the implementation of the Grain-for-Green Project from 1999. Despite this, water use characteristics of native and exotic shrub species remain poorly understood in this region. In this study, seasonal variations of water use characteristics of Spiraea pubescens (a native shrub) and Hippophae rhamnoides (an exotic shrub) in the Loess Plateau were investigated by examining the δ2H and δ18O of xylem and soil water from different soil layers within 300 cm of the surface, as well as the δ13C in plant leaves. Results revealed that H. rhamnoides and S. pubescens derived ˜80% of their water sources from the 0–120 cm soil layer during the growing seasons. However, H. rhamnoides absorbed higher proportions of deep soil water (120–300 cm) as the growing season progressed. H. rhamnoides flexibly converted its water source between shallow (0–40 cm) and deep soil layers. Moreover, H. rhamnoides had higher leaf-level water use efficiency than that of S. pubescens. These results suggest that H. rhamnoides has a greater degree of ecological plasticity in water use. Flexible water use characteristics are relevant to functionally dimorphic root systems as an adaptation strategy for the plants in water-limited environments. These findings indicate that water use characteristics of these plants should be considered when exotic species are introduced for revegetation in semiarid regions.
9 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29553171
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Wen-Feng Cong, Bent T. Christensen, Jørgen Eriksen

The response of above- and below-ground biomass to soil nutrient availability is crucial for estimating belowground carbon input and predicting changes in soil carbon storage. However, the response is far from clear at plant community level, especially for grassland systems. Using a long-term field experiment initiated 123 years ago with varying soil nutrient levels (deficient, sub-optimal, optimal and over-optimal) established by use of two nutrient sources (animal manure or mineral fertiliser), we examined the effects of soil nutrient level and source on herbage yield and composition, root biomass and root-to-shoot (R/S) ratio of an unfertilised multispecies grass-legume ley. Increased nutrient levels enhanced herbage yield, but did not affect root biomass. The R/S ratio decreased from deficient to sub-optimal level, but remained constant from optimal to over-optimal level. Nutrient source did not influence herbage yield, root biomass or R/S ratio, but the legume proportion increased in soils previously receiving mineral fertiliser. The R/S ratio decreased with herbage yield, but did not vary with herbage composition. We conclude that soil nutrient level and herbage yield rather than nutrient source and herbage composition determine biomass allocation between aboveground and belowground in temperate grassland leys.
10 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29596011
Publication date: 15 April 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 276
Author(s): Yufei Yao, Mingan Shao, Xiaoli Fu, Xiang Wang, Xiaorong Wei

Grassland afforestation, which is a major form of land-use change, has expanded considerably in the last few decades. However, the effect of conversion from grassland to shrubland on soil nitrogen (N) cycling and availability with regard to soil textures and slope positions is unclear. This lack of clarity has hindered our understanding of how grassland afforestation influences soil N availability and transformation on a larger spatial scale. In this study, we compared the net N mineralization rates and mineral N concentrations in soils from native grassland and under legume shrub (Caragana korshinskii Kom.) with contrasting soil textures (sandy-loam vs. loamy-sand) and slope positions (upper vs. lower) in the northern region of China’s Loess Plateau. The objective of this study is to understand how soil texture and slope position regulate the response of soil N cycling to grassland afforestation. The results showed that the concentrations of soil nitrate and total mineral N and the rates of net nitrification and mineralization were higher in soils under shrub (0.64 ± 0.10 g N m−2, 1.01 ± 0.11 g N m−2, 23.19 ± 5.22 mg N m−2 d-1 and 22.07 ± 5.44 mg N m−2 d-1) than in grassland (0.22 ± 0.03 g N m−2, 0.56 ± 0.04 g N m−2, 1.48 ± 1.51 mg N m−2 d-1 and 1.36 ± 1.96 mg N m−2 d-1). However, soil ammonium concentration and net ammonification rate were not affected by grassland afforestation. The effect of afforestation on nitrate and total mineral N concentrations was greater in the lower slope than in the upper slope but was similar between the sandy-loam and loamy-sand soils. The effect of this land-use change on net nitrification and mineralization rates varied with soil texture and slope position, with greater effects in the upper slope than in the lower slope in more clayey soils, but with the opposite influencing pattern in more sandy soils. These results suggested that planting C. korshinskii in grassland ecosystems increased soil N mineralization and availability. More importantly, soil texture and slope position should be considered when assessing the effects of grassland afforestation in complex landscape conditions.
11 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29633086
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Muhammad Naeem, Meijuan Liu, Jiaxing Huang, Guiling Ding, Grigory Potapov, Chuleui Jung, Jiandong An

Pollinators play a key role in agricultural and natural ecosystems, but their biodiversity is highly vulnerable to the impact of environmental changes. Here, we evaluated the distributional responses of 29 bumblebee species endemic to East Asia to future (2050s and 2070s) climate and land cover changes, and 17–27 (59–93 %) of the species exhibited range contraction. A decrease in species richness from 25 to 19 species in the highest region of central China was also detected due to range shifts of 17 km to 574 km. Furthermore, one (3.44%), three to five (10–17 %), and two to eight (7–28 %) of the 29 bumblebee species were predicted to become critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable in the future, respectively. Our study highlights the strong impact of environmental changes on species distributions, and we suggest strategies for the conservation of vulnerable species that include protecting the regions of high species richness and the most dominant land covers within the current range to mitigate the threat of environmental changes.

Graphical abstract

12 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29633087
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Aaron R. Mittelstet, Troy E. Gilmore, Tiffany Messer, Daran R. Rudnick, Thomas Heatherly

Nebraskan streams contribute excess nitrogen to the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin and Gulf of Mexico, which results in major water-quality impairments. Reducing the amount of nitrogen (N) exported in these streams requires the use of best management practices (BMPs) within the landscape. However, proper BMP utilization has rarely been statistically connected to potential controls of N export within watersheds, particularly precipitation and soil characteristics. In this study, 19 watershed variables were evaluated in five categories (hydrological, physiographic, point sources, land use, and soil properties) to determine the characteristics that influenced variable nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) concentrations in 17 Nebraska watersheds with known high NO3-N export rates. Each characteristic was derived from publicly-available datasets in an effort to develop a multiregional method. Of the 19 variables evaluated, 10 variables (developed, cropland, herbaceous, forest, excessively-drained soils, precipitation, base-flow index, slope, organic matter and point sources) were identified to statistically influence stream NO3-N concentrations. The 17 watersheds were divided into five subset groups using principal component analysis. Distributions of the 10 watershed variables were then used to determine the most applicable BMPs for NO3-N reductions for each stream subset: excessively drained with high baseflow index (Groups 1 and 2), dominantely row crop land usage with well-drained soils, higher precipitation, and an increased tendency for surface runoff concerns (Group 3), highly developed watersheds (Group 4), and single river dominated by wastewater treatment plant discharge (Group 5). Based on the most influential variables a variety of BMPs were recommended, including N fertilizer application management and accounting for N credit from mineralization and NO3-N in irrigation water (Groups 1 and 2), installation of riparian buffers and wetlands (Group 3), urban BMPs such as bioretention cells and permeable pavement (Group 4), and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant (Group 5). This study provides an improved technique for facilitating watershed management by linking BMPs directly to the characteristics of each watershed to reduce current nitrate export.
13 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29665670
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Christoph Gayer, Kornélia Kurucz, Christina Fischer, Teja Tscharntke, Péter Batáry

Agricultural intensification constrains the occurrences of birds from local through landscape to regional scales. Here, we tested effects of landscape configuration (comparing regions with small vs. large field size, thereby contrasting former West and East Germany), local farming practice (organic vs. conventional) and within-field position (edge vs. centre) on the abundance and species richness of farmland birds in winter wheat fields, with particular reference to skylarks (Alauda arvensis). We surveyed birds by point counts during breeding season within nine pairs of organic and conventional managed winter wheat fields along the Western (ca. 3 ha fields) and Eastern (ca. 20 ha fields) side of the former Iron Curtain in central Germany (n = 18 pairs). Bird abundance and species richness within arable field centres was highest in the small organic fields of the West, whereas skylarks showed a strong preference for open field conditions provided by field centres in the larger fields in East Germany. In conclusion, overall bird abundance and richness within arable fields would benefit from reducing local intensification of farming practices and field size, whereas open-land species such as skylarks benefit from large fields.
14 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29699020
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Pedro J. Rey, Antonio J. Manzaneda, Francisco Valera, Julio M. Alcántara, Rubén Tarifa, Jorge Isla, José L. Molina-Pardo, Gemma Calvo, Teresa Salido, J. Eugenio Gutiérrez, Carlos Ruiz

Studies assessing the effect of extensive versus intensive agricultural practices and addressing how biodiversity patterns and the effectiveness of agri-environmental practices (AES) to recover biodiversity are moderated by the landscape complexity (LMB framework), underlie large-scale biodiversity conservation programs and policies in anthropogenic landscapes. Such studies are numerous with annual crops and grasslands yet infrequent in more complex and structurally stable arboreal croplands, where high capacity to retain biodiversity is expected. Here, we explore to what extent landscape complexity and extensification of agricultural practices enhance biodiversity in olive groves of Andalusia (southern Spain). We monitored birds, ants and herbs in paired olive farms (extensive versus intensive ground herb cover management) from 20 localities spread over Andalusia and along a landscape complexity gradient. For each biological group, we obtained gamma diversity (diversity at the olive farm level), beta diversity (between the productive and unproductive areas located within the olive farm) and infield alpha diversity (in the productive area within the olive farm). We tested for multi-diversity, and for each group separately, three major hypotheses of the LMB: the intermediate-landscape complexity, the dominance of beta diversity, and the landscape species pool hypotheses. These hypotheses were corroborated with multi-diversity, which was affected by intensification of weed management and landscape simplification, suffering a combined impact of 26% of gamma biodiversity loss. The effectiveness of extensification to recover biodiversity depended on the landscape context and peaked at intermediate-complexity landscapes. Beta multi-diversity and infield alpha-diversity increased with landscape complexity. Birds, ants and weeds responded differently but were negatively affected either by landscape simplification or by management intensification. Birds mirrored better than other groups the multi-diversity pattern and were the best candidates for a rapid indicator of the impact of agriculture and land conversion on biodiversity. We provide recommendations for biodiversity conservation in olive groves-dominated landscapes and show that, if adequately managed, olive groves’ landscapes have potential for the conservation of biodiversity in the Mediterranean region. Our results illustrate the need to reformulate the future EU-Common Agricultural Policy and particularly, to adapt AES to each landscape.
15 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29699021
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Long Yang, Lei Xu, Bing Liu, Qian Zhang, Yunfei Pan, Qian Li, Haiqiang Li, Yanhui Lu

Ladybeetles are promising contributors of biological control services in agricultural landscapes, potentially providing significant economic gains in agricultural production. In northern China, ladybeetles are the most common predators in the annual double-crop rotation system, where the dominant crops are wheat in the spring and maize and cotton in the summer. Land-use features at the landscape level affect ladybeetle populations in a number of ways, and our previous studies have estimated the effects of landscape composition on ladybeetles abundance in wheat and cotton fields in northern China. However, these landscape effects on ladybeetle abundance in maize remain insufficiently documented in this specific agro-ecosystem. We assessed the relationships between ladybeetle abundance and landscape composition at four spatial scales (0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 km) in a summer maize system at the whorl stage (the main period for ladybeetle colonization). We found that both semi-natural habitats (woodlots and grasslands) and vegetation around water bodies increased the abundance of ladybeetles in maize fields, and maize area played a dilution effect on ladybeetle abundance in this crop. These non-crop habitats might serve as source of emigrants that disperse to maize fields. The smallest scale (0.5 km) studied was the most predictive spatial scale in this colonization period for ladybeetles. Propylaea japonica, the dominant ladybeetle, showed response to landscape variables in a similar way as the whole ladybeetle population did. These findings suggest that leaving some non-crop habitats and reducing human disturbance to this vegetation within a landscape will enhance ladybeetle abundance in maize fields. Consistent with our previous studies in wheat and cotton fields in the same system, maintaining the continuity in time and space of functional habitats was essential for the persistence of ladybeetle populations within the landscape. In the future, habitat management and landscape design to ensure resource continuity should be encouraged to maximize the conservation of ladybeetles in agricultural ecosystems in northern China.
16 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29699022
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Zheng Zhang, Ruhai Li, Dehao Wang, Bernal Eduardo Valverde, Sheng Qiang

Water is one of the main dispersal agents of plant seeds and influences plant population dynamics and community structure. Although a large proportion of paddy fields are subjected to irrigation, limited research has addressed weed seed dispersal via water in rice-based systems. In this study, safranin T-dyed Beckmannia syzigachne seeds were released and their movement was tracked to characterize their dispersal dynamics via water in an irrigation canal and in a rice field. B. syzigachne seeds, floating on the water surface, moved from their release point at the canal entrance via irrigation water along the irrigation canal. A well-simulated Gaussian plume model indicated that the seed dispersal of B. syzigachne conformed to a leptokurtic distribution, and the peak dispersal kernel showed that seeds moved along the irrigation water flow to approximately 800–1000 m away from the release point 36 h after release into the canal. When seeds were released in the center of a flooded field, a total of 60% of the released seeds were water-dispersed to the northwest corner by the southeast prevailing monsoon wind within 72 h. The well-fitted Gauss 2D-model illustrated the widening of the seed distribution range with time and dispersal pattern with an accumulation center in the field. Our study is the first to show that buoyant weed seeds are mainly dispersed by irrigation water in both the canal and field and that the water dispersal of seeds influences the spatial deposition and distribution of the weed seed bank and strongly affects weed occurrence patterns in irrigated fields.
17 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29699023
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Chunfeng Chen, Junen Wu, Xiai Zhu, Xiaojin Jiang, Wenjie Liu, Huanhuan Zeng, Fan-Rui Meng

Many species of fungus-feeding termites collectively build massive mound structures that enclose a network of broad tunnels to provide a controlled microclimate in which to raise fungus and brood by managing heat, humidity and respiratory gas exchange. However, the mechanisms by which termites regulate the water content inside the termite mounds are currently unknown in regions in southern Asia with distinctive dry and wet seasons. Here, we investigated the spatio-temporal variations in the water content in the mound structures of O. yunnanensis and then used the dye tracer infiltration method to determine how the existing mound structure and/or termite activities contribute to regulating the moisture inside the mounds. We found that the outer walls could act as a shield to prevent water infiltration into the mound, and the network of broad tunnels could act as a drainage system to eliminate excess water when the outer walls are compromised during heavy rainfall events in the rainy season. Furthermore, the termites could repair or reshape the mound to control water flows inside the mound. During the dry season, the high-density mound wall effectively reduced evaporation, and the termites could actively transport water to maintain favourable microclimatic conditions. Our results demonstrated the internal water spatio-temporal distribution in the mound and its regulation mechanisms and provided clues for understanding mound morphogenesis and the organization of insect societies.
18 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 29699024
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 277
Author(s): Samantha K. Travers, David J. Eldridge, James Val, Ian Oliver

Woody plants are critical for supporting wildlife and maintaining ecosystem structure and function in drylands. Grazing has the potential to alter woody plant community structure by affecting the size and survival of shrubs and saplings. We assessed the role of recent and historic grazing by livestock, and recent grazing by kangaroos and rabbits, on woody plant structure and composition. We measured the density and species occurrence of saplings and shrubs within three plant communities across 0.5 M km2 of eastern Australia and used generalised linear mixed models to examine how grazing, soil texture and the basal area of mature trees altered the structure and composition of mid-storey woody plants. Due to co-evolution, we expected a stronger negative effect of grazing on shrub and sapling density and species occurrence by introduced herbivores than native herbivores and that shorter individuals would be more susceptible to recent grazing activity. We found that the density and occurrence of shrubs and saplings generally responded more negatively to introduced herbivores irrespective of their height. Sapling density was strongly reduced by recent rabbit and livestock grazing but increased in density at sites with greater kangaroo and historic livestock grazing. Recent livestock grazing also reduced the occurrence of sapling species. There were no strong effects of any grazing on shrub density, but rabbit grazing strongly reduced shrub species occurrence, with few strong responses among individual species. Our data provide strong evidence that recent grazing by livestock and rabbits can reduce sapling density and alter woody plant occurrence. This has the potential to induce long-term changes in ecosystem structure by limiting shrub and sapling establishment which could lead to aging and contracting woody plant populations.

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Journal Citation Reports (2017)

Impact factor: 3.541
Q1 (Agriculture, Multidisciplinary (1/56))
Q1 (Ecology (38/158))
Q1 (Environmental Sciences (60/241))

Scopus Journal Metrics (2017)

SJR: 1.747
SNIP: 1.636
Impact (Scopus CiteScore): 0.432
Quartile: Q1
CiteScore percentile: 99%
CiteScore rank: 4 out of 367
Cited by WUR staff: 1501 times. (2014-2016)

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