Modelling farmer decision-making to anticipate tradeoffs between provisioning ecosystem services and biodiversity

E.E. Guillem, D. Murray-Rust, Derek Robinson, Andrew Barnes, Mark Rounsevell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper, an agent-based model of heterogeneous farmer decision-making was coupled with an individual-based model of skylark breeding populations, and applied to a small intensive arable catchment in Scotland. The impacts of farmer decisions on a tradeoff between food and bioenergy production, and skylark numbers, were simulated under the assumptions of three socio-economic scenarios until the year 2050. Bioenergy and food production had a significant negative effect on adult and fledgling skylarks. In a business-as-usual context, the production of food and bioenergy increases smoothly, and the number of skylarks is more stable over time than in other scenarios. Food production was higher in an economic liberalisation scenario, due to intensive management and higher yield performance. This explained the low average number of skylarks found at the landscape level in this scenario. The number of skylarks was highest in a sustainability-oriented scenario, but a sharp decrease was observed from 2035 onwards due to the large area planted with bioenergy crops. The different values for economic, environmental and social attributes of farmer decisions played an important role in the land use mosaic, the implementation of ecologically-related actions and on the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Overall, results suggest that a re-assessment of policy targets and design is necessary to maximise environmental management efficiency at the catchment level by taking into account the heterogeneity in farmer objectives and the tradeoffs in ecosystem services provision. The novel approach of coupling an ABM with an IBM is encouraged in further land use related studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural systems
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Agent-based model,Bioenergy crops,Farmer behaviour,Food production,Land use change,Skylark


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