Building on Margalef: Testing the links between landscape structure, energy and information flows driven by farming and biodiversity

Joan Marull, Sergi Herrando, Lluís Brotons, Yolanda Melero, Joan Pino, Claudio Cattaneo, Manel Pons, Jordi Llobet, Enric Tello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

12 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. The aim of this paper is to test two methodologies, applicable to different spatial scales (from regional to local), to predict the capacity of agroecosystems to provide habitats for the species richness of butterflies and birds, based on the ways their socio-metabolic flows change the ecological functionality of bio-cultural landscapes. First, we use the more general Intermediate Disturbance-Complexity (IDC) model to assess how different levels of human appropriation of photosynthetic production affect the landscape functional structure that hosts biodiversity. Second, we apply a more detailed Energy-Landscape Integrated Analysis (ELIA) model that focusses on the energy storage carried out by the internal biomass loops, and the energy information held in the network of energy flows driven by farmers, in order to correlate both (the energy reinvested and redistributed) with the energy imprinted in the landscape patterns and processes that sustain biodiversity. The results obtained after applying both models in the province and the metropolitan region of Barcelona support the Margalef's energy-information-structure hypothesis by showing positive relations between butterflies' species richness, IDC and ELIA, and between birds' species richness and energy information. Our findings support the view that strong relationships between farming energy flows, agroecosystem functioning and biodiversity can be detected, and highlight the importance of farmers' knowledge and labour to maintain bio-cultural landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-614
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


  • Energy Return on Energy Investment
  • Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production
  • Intermediate disturbance hypothesis
  • Land-sharing debate
  • Landscape Agro-ecology


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