First results from ECO-OLIVES: Linking biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service management in Mediterranean olive cultivation landscapes


Abstract: The ECO-OLIVES project explores the critical nexus between biodiversity
conservation and ecosystem service management in Mediterranean olive groves, confronting
the challenges of global land use changes and climate impacts. Our research underscores the
significance of olive orchards in sustainable agriculture by examining the relationships between olive management and the biodiversity of birds, bats, and arthropods, crucial for natural pest control and ecosystem stability. Through a trans-disciplinary lens, the study assesses the effects of farm-level practices, landscape context, and seasonal variations on species diversity, ecological interactions, and crop production. The project spans 12 organic olive farms in Italy’s Monte Pisano region, analyzing the functional diversity of key species groups over two years. Techniques include bio-acoustic surveys, visual observations, and various trapping methods, complemented by exclusion experiments and systematic pruning to gauge management impacts on biodiversity and yield. Initial findings highlight significant species records and interactions, with management practices such vertebrate exclusions and pruning influencing arthropod populations, crop yields, and pest levels. These results emphasize the role of surrounding natural habitats in enhancing farm biodiversity and related pest control services. By aligning environmental, social, and economic goals, ECO-OLIVES aims to advance sustainable olive farming, fostering collaborative efforts for improved agricultural practices.

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