Organic farming supports habitat specialist mammals

Photo Credit: David Syzdek Photo Credit: David Syzdek

Mammals play an important role in agricultural systems, yet very few studies have examined the influence that organic and conventional farming systems have on small mammal richness and diversity. Now, a study published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment has found that the abundance of small mammals that are habitat specialists is greater on organic farms than conventional farms. Argentinian researchers set small mammal traps to compare the small mammal communities between multiple pairs of organic and conventional farms. They found that organic farms had an increased abundance of habitat specialist species. “Considering the important positive role that small mammals have on food webs in agricultural systems, the maintenance of high population numbers may be important for biodiversity conservation,” the authors wrote. While many studies have demonstrated that organic farms host higher diversity of soil microorganisms, beneficial insect predators, pollinators and birds, this study suggests that organic farming systems may also have an important role to play in biodiversity conservation of mammals.