CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Global change and multi-species agroecosystems: Concepts and issues

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Complex (multi-species) agroecosystems change rapidly as a result of farmers' decisions based on their perception of opportunities and constraints. Overall, the major trend is still one of reducing complexity. This review addresses the driving forces as well as consequences of this change and discusses the hypothesis that complex agricultural systems are more dependable in production and more sustainable in terms of resource conservation than simple ones. Farmer decisions regarding planned diversity on the farm have consequences not only for the harvested produce, but also for associated diversity and non-harvested components which may contribute to ecological sustainability. Functional attributes of plants which can lead to complementarity in resource capture include root architecture and phenology. Three hypotheses on biodiversity and ecosystem function are formulated (ranging from weak negative to strong positive interactions) and discussed. Evidence is not yet conclusive

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