Conservation Pay-Off

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Science  12 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6142, pp. 110
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6142.110-a

The steady decline of biodiversity and the increasing homogenization of biotas through human influence has become a familiar theme of the 21st century. Carvalheiro et al., however, suggest that these processes may be slowing down, at least for some groups of organisms in Europe. Focusing on assemblages of flower-visiting insects and plant species recorded in four 20-year time periods from the 1930s onward in Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, they show that the rates of biodiversity decline and biotic homogenization were at their greatest in the mid-20th century, a period marked by the most rapid expansion and intensification of agriculture. Since 1990, the rate of change has decelerated, indicating that conservation measures, along with the declining rate of land conversion, are beginning to have a positive pay-off for at least some of the elements of European biodiversity.

Ecol. Lett. 16, 870 (2013).

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