This database contains bibliographic descriptions of all Wageningen University PhD theses from 1920 onwards. It is updated on a daily basis by WUR Library.
Author abstracts and/or summaries are added to all descriptions. A link to the full text dissertation is added to the bibliographic description. In a few cases, no electronic version is available, mostly because of copyright issues.
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The landscape in Zona da Mata region (Brazil) can be understood as a dynamic mosaic of land uses, including secondary forest, pastures and coffee. Spatial patterns of such mosaics are determined by heterogeneous physical landscape features and shaped by the diversity in management practices and decisions made by individual farmers. Thus, a gradient of more biodiverse to overly simplified farms can be found in the region. These farming systems contribute differently to local livelihoods and to the provision of ecosystem services (ES). Currently, we lack understanding of the incentives that farmers have to manage agrobiodiversity and the consequences of management for functional diversity and the provision of multiple ES. Therefore, I used a combination of social and ecological methods to link biodiversity, ecosystem services and social actors for informing the development of sustainable agroecological systems. First, a farm typology was conducted in the region to explore implications of farm diversity for promoting agroecology and agrobiodiversity. Second, fuzzy cognitive maps were used to unravel and contrast farmers` perceptions on ecosystem services and their management. Third, coffee and pastures were selected on different farm types to evaluate the direct and indirect impact of management on biodiversity and ecosystem services. A variety of indicators were measured in each system and grouped in three components: soil-based ecosystem services; plant diversity (taxonomical, functional and structural); and management practices. Fourth, the effects of forest regeneration on biodiversity and soil functions was assessed along a successional gradient in the Atlantic forest biome. The results show that changes in the cognitive perception of farmers on ES led to changes in management strategies, that in turn, influenced biodiversity and the provision of ES. Agroecological farmers had a more complex perception on ES than other farm types, which was associated to greater access to public policies and participation in social organisations as well as higher biodiversity in their agroecosystems. Thus, the transition to agroecology in Zona da Mata was successful to help a group of a farmers to enhance biodiversity based ecological processes, moving away from the dependence of industrial inputs without compromising soil quality and plant health. In addition, I demonstrated the potential of secondary forest succession as an strategy to help farmers to increase on-farm forest cover and recover the associated biodiversity and soil functions. The outcomes from this thesis were useful both to answer more fundamental research questions and also to support land users, managers, policy-makers, technicians and other actors to take informed decisions based on a multilevel scientific assessment of agroecosystems.
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