Biodiversity in the grips of agriculture and urbanisation
One of the leading causes of biodiversity loss is land-use change, associated with habitat loss and degradation. Sustainable development requires a nature conservation strategy that takes into account the landscape as a whole. It is essential to study the biodiversity of urban and agro-ecosystems and the associated ecosystem services, as such ecosystems occupy nearly half of the land surface. Our project combines landscape, agricultural and urban ecology to examine the impact of the two components of landscape heterogeneity, habitat composition and configuration, on the biodiversity, functioning and services of urban ecosystems. We study the biodiversity and functional traits of plants, arthropods and birds along urbanisation gradients in towns and villages in landscapes dominated by near-natural and agricultural areas of the Carpathian Basin. We use socio-ecological methods to assess how local residents value the biodiversity and services of urban ecosystems to gain a complete picture of the complex impact of biological, social, and economic factors. In extensive collaboration with other research groups, we will conduct studies on multiple taxa, functions, and services in high replicate numbers. Our results will clarify the role of landscape heterogeneity in urban ecosystems and provide guidance to conservationists on landscape conditions that sustain the functioning and services of ecosystems.