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Bioenergy crops better for biodiversity than food-based agriculture

Source: southampton.ac.uk

A study led by the University of Southampton suggests a greater diversity of plants and animals can be found where bioenergy crops are grown, compared with areas supporting traditional agricultural crops.

A team of scientists, from the universities of Southampton, Surrey and California, analysed data from a variety of field-based studies to establish overall trends of biodiversity for different crop types. Originally starting with some 4,000 studies, they used a strict selection criteria to identify 21 to examine in more detail for this research.

Findings, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, showed that biodiversity increases 75 percent after land-use change from food-based agriculture to non-food bioenergy crops, with bird abundance increasing 81 percent and bird species richness rising 100 percent. Benefits were also found for insects, plants and soil biodiversity. MORE