The landscape complexity relevance to farming effect assessment on small mammal occupancy in Argentinian farmlands
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The responses of organisms to organic farming depend on the taxonomic group and landscape complexity. Following the intermediate landscape complexity hypothesis, organic farming can compensate for the lack of complexity in simple landscapes. Argentinian farmlands are simple with large fields and scarce linear habitat array, and conventional agriculture is almost the only agriculture practice. We hypothesize that there is an interaction effect of landscape complexity and farming practices on occupancy and species richness of small mammals in farmland of central Argentina. We selected circular landscapes under organic farming and low- and high-intensity conventional farming and quantified heterogeneity in each landscape considering different cover types (crops, resting plots, fallow land, border habitats, grasslands and man-made structures). We used multi-species occupancy models accounting for multiple seasons with a Bayesian approach to make the estimates. Landscapes under organic farms had the highest level of landscape heterogeneity. In simple Argentinian farmlands, organic farming benefited species richness and occupancy of all small mammal species. Some management strategies used in organic farming (wide and vegetated border habitats, diversity in types of production, winter cover crops, natural or semi-natural patches) should be taken into account to increase landscape complexity in conventional farming.
KeywordsOrganic and conventional farming Landscape heterogeneity Multi-species occupancy models Species richness Bayesian approach
We are thankful to Javier Escudero for fieldwork assistance. We thank Foundation Rachel and Pamela Schiele, Las Gaviotas, Altos Verdes, El Piquete, El Chañarito y La Aurora farms that allowed us to carry out the surveys.
Author contribution statement
VNS, MDG and JWP designed the study and wrote the manuscript. VNS, JC, FC, MDG and JWP performed the research. VNS and MJC analyzed the data. VNS, MJC, MDG and JWP interpreted the data. VNS, MJC, MDG and JWP provided critical revision.
This work was supported by Consejo Nacional de Investigación Científica y Técnica (CONICET) [PIP CONICET No. 11220150100034] and Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests. The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/) repository.
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