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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325741

Research Project: Multifunctional Farms and Landscapes to Enhance Ecosystem Services

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Shifting Patterns of Agricultural Diversity

item Goslee, Sarah

Submitted to: US-International Association for Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2016
Publication Date: 4/4/2016
Citation: Goslee, S.C. 2016. Shifting Patterns of Agricultural Diversity[Abstract]. US-International Association for Landscape Ecology Annual Meeting, April 3-7, 2016, Asheville, North Carolina. p. 1.

Interpretive Summary: Interpretive Summary is not necessary.

Technical Abstract: Although monocultural cropping systems can provide the greatest yield efficiency in the short term, more diverse agricultural landscapes may contribute multiple ecosystem benefits. The USDA's Cropland Data Layer provides a yearly map of the agricultural lands of the continental United States broken down by crop type. Random Forest models related both individual crop distributions and local measures of agricultural landscape diversity and structure to climate. The climatic variables chosen determine temperature and water availability, and thus are important for plant species distributions. The models explained 89% of the variability in area planted to corn, 83% of the area planted to perennial grassland (hay and pasture), and 82% of the variability in local crop diversity. Models were used to make predictions on variables from climate change scenarios, and these predictions were merged with land use maps to characterize future agricultural potentials. Current centers of agricultural landscape diversity and productivity are determined by climate, but soil quality contributes to agricultural productivity, and infrastructure is required to translate production into food. Over time, optimal climatic areas will shift away from current agricultural centers into regions with less favorable soils and less well-developed infrastructure. Characterizing these shifts in advance will enable us to adapt to changing climatic conditions, rather than to continually react.