Land-use trade-offs between tree biodiversity and crop production in the Atlantic Forest

Vinícius Marcilio-Silva, Márcia C.M. Marques, Jeannine Cavender-Bares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Trade-offs in ecosystem services (ES) have received increasing attention because provisioning services often come at the expense of biodiversity loss. When land-use patterns are not maximally efficient relative to productivity, provisioning services, such as crop production, can often be increased without losing biodiversity. The Atlantic Forest (AF) encompasses dense, mixed, and seasonal forests and has high levels of endemism and anthropogenic threat. We examined trade-offs between biodiversity and crop production in the AF to provide insights into land-use management decisions. We developed a biodiversity metric that combines information on tree species richness, evolutionary distinctiveness, and rarity at the local level. We examined the extent to which the nature of ES trade-offs differ among the 3 forest types. We assessed how annual deforestation rates and land management practices affect biodiversity and agricultural revenues. Finally, we tested whether it is possible to achieve the same total regional revenue without reducing biodiversity by improving local management practices. The 3 forest types had similar patterns in ES trade-offs, although within mixed forest patterns differed. Biodiversity appeared to be more sensitive to land-use change than crop revenues. Certain crops yielded up to 10 times higher values in some sites. Enhanced crop productivity may increase revenues without reducing biodiversity. Our results showed that to enhance human well-being without further conversion of AF, maximizing crop productivity is needed. Increasing efficiency of management outcomes by maintaining higher biodiversity and increasing provisioning services depends on knowledge of forest type, the comparative advantage of planting crops in the best places, and preserving species in a balanced manner across forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1084
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • biodiversity measurement
  • cropland
  • deforestación
  • deforestation
  • ecosystem services
  • medición de la biodiversidad
  • servicios ecosistémicos
  • sustainability
  • sustentabilidad
  • tierras agrícolas

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