Long-term bio-cultural heritage: exploring the intermediate disturbance hypothesis in agro-ecological landscapes (Mallorca, c. 1850–2012)

Joan Marull, Enric Tello, Nofre Fullana, Ivan Murray, Gabriel Jover, Carme Font, Francesc Coll, Elena Domene, Veronica Leoni, Trejsi Decolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. We applied an intermediate disturbance-complexity approach to the land-use change of cultural landscapes in the island of Mallorca from c. 1850 to the present, which accounts for the joint behaviour of human appropriation of photosynthetic capacity used as a measure of disturbance, and a selection of land metrics at different spatial scales that account for ecological functionality as a proxy of biodiversity. We also delved deeper into local land-use changes in order to identify the main socioeconomic drivers and ruling agencies at stake. A second degree polynomial regression was obtained linking socio-metabolic disturbance and landscape ecological functioning (jointly assessing landscape patterns and processes). The results confirm our intermediate disturbance-complexity hypothesis by showing a hump-shaped relationship where the highest level of landscape complexity (heterogeneity connectivity) is attained when disturbance peaks at 50–60 %. The study proves the usefulness of transferring the concept of intermediate disturbance to Mediterranean cultural landscapes, and suggests that the conservation of heterogeneous and well connected land-use mosaics with a positive interplay between intermediate level of farming disturbances and land-cover complexity endowed with a rich bio-cultural heritage will preserve a wildlife-friendly agro-ecological matrix that is likely to house high biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3217-3251
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Bio-cultural heritage
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Cultural landscape
  • Disturbance ecology
  • Human appropriation of net primary production
  • Socio-ecological transition


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