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Effect of Widespread Agricultural Chemical Use on Butterfly Diversity across Turkish Provinces

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Abstract

Although agricultural intensification is thought to pose a significant threat to species, little is known about its role in driving biodiversity loss at regional scales. I assessed the effects of a major component of agricultural intensification, agricultural chemical use, and land‐cover and climatic variables on butterfly diversity across 81 provinces in Turkey, where agriculture is practiced extensively but with varying degrees of intensity. I determined butterfly species presence in each province from data on known butterfly distributions and calculated agricultural chemical use as the proportion of agricultural households that use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I used constrained correspondence analyses and regression‐based multimodel inference to determine the effect of environmental variables on species composition and richness, respectively. The variation in butterfly species composition across the provinces was largely explained (78%) by the combination of agricultural chemical use, particularly pesticides, and climatic and land‐cover variables. Although overall butterfly richness was primarily explained by climatic and land‐cover variables, such as the area of natural vegetation cover, threatened butterfly richness and the relative number of threatened butterfly species decreased substantially as the proportion of agricultural households using pesticides increased. These findings suggest that widespread use of agricultural chemicals, or other components of agricultural intensification that may be collinear with pesticide use, pose an imminent threat to the biodiversity of Turkey. Accordingly, policies that mitigate agricultural intensification and promote low‐input farming practices are crucial for protecting threatened species from extinction in rapidly industrializing nations such as Turkey.

Efectos del Uso Extensivo de AgroquĂ­micos sobre la Diversidad de Mariposas en Provincias Turcas
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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