Bird friendly wine country through diversified vineyards (Accepted in Conservation Biology)


Agricultural adapters from the vineyard landscape impact native oak woodland birds 

Agricultural expansion changes wildlife communities. Some species adapt to working lands, increasing their relative abundance in these modified landscapes, and this may result in spillover effects for communities in adjacent wildlands. These effects remain largely undocumented, even though they can affect biodiversity conservation. We conducted bird surveys at 130 Mediterranean-climate oak woodland locations that exist across a gradient of nearby vineyard development. We used zero inflated Poisson (ZIP) N-mixture models to analyze the relationships among detected bird species, local vegetation, and surrounding vineyard land cover. We used joint species distribution modeling (JSDM) to measure species co-occurrence patterns and account for the influence of the surrounding agricultural land in order to explore indirect effects between bird communities associated with vineyard expansion and oak woodland remnants. We identified 10 species as agricultural adapters based on their positive associated with vineyard land cover. Co-occurrence patterns suggested that i) agricultural adapter species may negatively interact with certain species associated with oak woodlands in adjacent wildlands, so competition with agricultural adapters may be an important driver of biotic homogenization of the community, and (ii) some positive species interactions were detected, especially among insectivore foliage gleaners, which may be facilitated by niche partitioning. Continued examination of spillover effects from agricultural land into adjacent natural areas is warranted in light of global species declines and biotic homogenization.

Publication: Agricultural adapters from the vineyard landscape impact native oakwoodland birds


Evidence synthesis as the basis for decision analysis: a method of selecting the best agricultural practices for multiple ecosystem services

Agricultural management practices have impacts not only on crops and livestock, but also on soil, water, wildlife, and ecosystem services. Agricultural research provides evidence about these impacts, but it is unclear how this evidence should be used to make decisions. Two methods are widely used in decision making: evidence synthesis and decision analysis. However, a system of evidence-based decision making that integrates these two methods has not yet been established. Moreover, the standard methods of evidence synthesis have a narrow focus (e.g., the effects of one management practice), but the standard methods of decision analysis have a wide focus (e.g., the comparative effectiveness of multiple management practices). Thus, there is a mismatch between the outputs from evidence synthesis and the inputs that are needed for decision analysis. We show how evidence for a wide range of agricultural practices can be reviewed and summarized simultaneously (“subject-wide evidence synthesis”), and how this evidence can be assessed by experts and used for decision making (“multiple-criteria decision analysis”). We show how these methods could be used by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in California to select the best management practices for multiple ecosystem services in Mediterranean-type farmland and rangeland, based on a subject-wide evidence synthesis that was published by Conservation Evidence ( This method of “evidence-based decision analysis” could be used at different scales, from the local scale (farmers deciding which practices to adopt) to the national or international scale (policy makers deciding which practices to support through agricultural subsidies or other payments for ecosystem services). We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this method, and we suggest some general principles for improving evidence synthesis as the basis for multi-criteria decision analysis.

Publication: Evidence Synthesis as the Basis for Decision Analysis

Native agrobiodiversity linked to indigenous peoples and peasants in Chile

One of the greatest natural resources that Chile has is its botanical biodiversity. This wealth of plants also extends to those destined for consumption as food by the population, where they have been selecting species and varieties with agricultural interest for centuries, first by indigenous peoples, and now by rural peasant and indigenous communities. Our botanical heritage includes three food species of particular world interest, which are produced in different regions and are part of the diet of multiple cultures: the strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and the quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). This book chapter  presents a review of the literature on these three species, integrating local and traditional agroecological knowledge about them, and the role of rural communities in safeguarding their genetic heritage.

Publication (in spanish): Capitulo 3 Huertas familiares y comunitarias

huertos 1

Agroecosystems provide habitat for wildlife in a mediterranean-type ecosystem

Understanding the role of agroecosystems as habitat for wildlife is crucial for long-term conservation planning, as different crop stratification, landscape elements, and seasonality influence bird communities. Agriculture is one of the main drivers of land use change, yet these seminatural landscapes can provide habitat for some species, influencing species relative abundance and consequently community composition. The Chilean mediterranean-type ecosystem is highly fragmented by agriculture, the consequences of which for wildlife are poorly understood. Our research aimed to determine how agricultural landscapes varying in land cover characteristics affect bird richness and abundance.  We used bird species abundance to evaluate the effects of different agricultural land covers on bird species and communities. We found that abundance of some bird species in agroecosystems in central Chile was higher in winter than in spring, indicating temporal variability in the importance of agroecosystems as bird habitat. We also found that overall bird richness was favored by structural diversity including non-crop structures such as hedgerows, which could be used to manage for bird conservation in temperate agroecosystems. Our results suggest that native vegetation proximity and area may affect seasonal changes in bird communities at larger scales, and that these relationships warrant further study to better understand the role of landscape heterogeneity in these agroecosystems.



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Discovery of extended endemic plant distribution reinforces value of priority sites for conservation

The mediterranean-type ecosystems of central Chile are world renowned for their level of species endemism. One of these endemic plant species is Miersia chilensis var. bicolor M. Muñoz, a small cryptic small monocotyledon plant mainly reported in a small area. We found a second population of Miersia chilensis var. bicolor Lonquén hill, a finding that extended the species’ previously understood distribution by 15 kilometers to the north and its altitudinal range by 200 meters. We estimated population size in 2011 and 2015 and reported a significant decline, which may be due to environmental or biotic factors. The new, expanded distribution we reported reinforces the unique value of Lonquén Hill, a priority site for conservation in central Chile.



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