Agrobiodiversity

Scale level :
Copyright : Hugo François
Definition :

Agrobiodiversity, or agricultural biodiversity, is the part of biodiversity recognized as a resource by farmers for agricultural production. It corresponds to the diversity of living organisms consciously managed by the farmer. Like biodiversity, agrobiodiversity is divided into three levels which interact with one another: genetic diversity, specific diversity and agro-ecosystem diversity.

Genetic agrobiodiversity includes, for each species – domesticated and used in agriculture –, all plant varieties and animal species created by humans since Neolithic times. It also includes their wild relatives which are an important diversity reservoir for the genetic improvement of these varieties and species.

Specific agrobiodiversity is the diversity of species involved in the agro-ecosystem, whether domestic or wild, but whose survival is dependent on agricultural practice. These latter species are named segetal plants: blueberries or poppies are segetal plants which only grow in grain fields. The development of agroecology has led all species which play a part in the ecosystem processes that support agricultural production to be considered a part of agrobiodiversity, for instance soil fauna and flora.

Agro-ecosystem biodiversity considers the diversity of ecological habitats and how they fit together both in time and space at the scale of a field, a farm or a landscape. It includes crops, semi-natural habitats such as permanent grasslands, hedges … and natural habitats such as ponds, groves which are part of the agricultural landscape. The importance and organization of this agrobiodiversity play a decisive role in providing agro-ecosystem services. It is a key component of food security, and human health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, like biodiversity, agrobiodiversity has eroded in a very worrying way since the end of the 19th century. Its preservation is subject to specific measures (conservation of genetic resources, preservation of natural elements …) in addition to actions undertaken for biodiversity conservation.

Published on 22 August 2016
Bibliographic references :

FAO. What is Agribiodiversity ?

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