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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 617352, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/617352
Research Article

Farmers' Interest in Nature and Its Relation to Biodiversity in Arable Fields

1Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology, Box 7044, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
2Länsstyrelsen i Uppsala Län, 751 86 Uppsala, Sweden
3Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, The Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Box 7007, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
4Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Box 7012, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
5Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B, 114 19 Stockholm, Sweden
6Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Box 7047, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
7Örebro University, School of Science and Technology, 701 82 Örebro, Sweden

Received 31 October 2012; Revised 14 March 2013; Accepted 18 April 2013

Academic Editor: L. M. Chu

Copyright © 2013 J. Ahnström et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Biodiversity declines in farmland have been attributed to intensification of farming at the field level and loss of heterogeneity at the landscape level. However, farmers are not solely optimizing production; their actions are also influenced by social factors, tradition and interest in nature, which indirectly influence biodiversity but rarely are incorporated in studies of farmland biodiversity. We used social science methods to quantify farmers' interest in nature on 16 farms with winter wheat fields in central Sweden, and combined this with biodiversity inventories of five organism groups (weeds, carabid beetles, bumblebees, solitary bees, and birds) and estimates of landscape composition and management intensity at the field level. Agricultural intensity, measured as crop density, and farmers' interest in nature explained variation in biodiversity, measured as the proportion of the regional species richness found on single fields. Interest in nature seemed to incorporate many actions taken by farmers and appeared to be influenced by both physical factors, for example, the surrounding landscape, and social factors, for example, social motivations. This study indicates that conservation of biodiversity in farmland, and design of new agri-environmental subsidy systems, would profit from taking farmers' interest in nature and its relation to agricultural practices into account.