Biodiversity in European livestock systems

28 August 2018
Sustainable land-use
Animal production
Livestock systems

MAGIC's Akke Kok (Wageningen University & Research) presented her research on the impact of European livestock systems on biodiversity at the 69th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAPP2018), Dubrovnik, Croatia, 27-31 August 2018. Her research forms part of MAGIC's critical analysis of the policy solution 'Interventions directed toward environmental protection'. Presented in Session 30 of the conference, ‘Role of livestock in sustainable landuse and resource uses’ (28 August 2018), the discussion during and after the talk provided useful insights for the project: 

The around 50 attendees were asked to vote which of two schematic landscapes had the greatest biodiversity in their opinion. All attendees favored the landscape with 1 dominant species and 7 additional marginal species over the landscape with 4 equally-abundant species. During her talk, Akke explained that the Shannon Index, used to assess biodiversity in 33 of 131 reviewed articles, would have given the opposite conclusion – and that different indicators answer different questions regarding biodiversity. Also, currently, most research has focused on the direct impact of grazing of livestock (mainly ruminants), and only to a limited extent on the indirect impact of feed production. The discussion after the talk continued on which would be the best indicator, and that one indicator would not cover the whole concept of biodiversity. Instead, the indicator choice should be done in such a way that it matches the aimed-for biodiversity (e.g., red list species in case of conservation, but taking relative abundance of species into account in case of ecological functioning). Moreover, instead of looking at species separately, an approach that is used is to assess winner and loser species.

Akke's presentation, entitled 'A systematic review of research on biodiversity in European livestock systems', is available in our document repository.