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01-04-2014 | LAND USE IN LCA | Issue 4/2014

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 4/2014

A spatially explicit data-driven approach to assess the effect of agricultural land occupation on species groups

Journal:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment > Issue 4/2014
Authors:
Pieter M. F. Elshout, Rosalie van Zelm, Ramkumar Karuppiah, Ian J. Laurenzi, Mark A. J. Huijbregts
Important notes
Responsible editor: Thomas Koellner

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s11367-014-0701-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Abstract

Purpose

Change of vegetation cover and increased land use intensity, particularly for agricultural use, can affect species richness. Within life cycle impact assessment, methods to assess impacts of land use on a global scale are still in need of development. In this work, we present a spatially explicit data-driven approach to characterize the effect of agricultural land occupation on different species groups.

Methods

We derived characterization factors for the direct impact of agricultural land occupation on relative species richness. Our method identifies potential differences in impacts for cultivation of different crop types, on different species groups, and in different world regions. Using empirical species richness data gathered via an extensive literature search, characterization factors were calculated for four crop groups (oil palm, low crops, Pooideae, and Panicoideae), four species groups (arthropods, birds, mammals, and vascular plants), and six biomes.

Results and discussion

Analysis of the collected data showed that vascular plant richness is more sensitive than the species richness of arthropods to agricultural land occupation. Regarding the differences between world regions, the impact of agricultural land use was lower in boreal forests/taiga than in temperate and tropical regions. The impact of oil palm plantations was found to be larger than that of Pooideae croplands, although we cannot rule out that this difference is influenced by the spatial difference between the oil palm- and Pooideae-growing regions as well. Analysis of a subset of data showed that the impact of conventional farming was larger than the impact of low-input farming.

Conclusions

The impact of land occupation on relative species richness depends on the taxonomic groups considered, the climatic region, and farm management. The influence of crop type, however, was found to be of less importance.

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Supplementary Material
ESM (DOCX 117 kb)
11367_2014_701_MOESM1_ESM.docx
Literature
About this article

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