A new study, led by CABI scientist Dr. Elizabeth Finch, is the first to investigate the impacts of swidden agriculture on ant communities across the full degradation gradient, highlighting the utmost importance of the conservation of existing closed canopy forests.
Swidden agriculture, known more commonly as slash and burn agriculture, is a widespread subsistence farming method in the tropics which is being intensified and expanded to meet the demands of a growing human population. In Madagascar, for example, fallow times have decreased from 8–15 years to 3–5 years over three decades, resulting in faster land degradation.
The research, conducted while Dr. Finch was completing her Ph.D. at the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast and now published in the journal Biological Conservation, reveals that degradation due to swidden agriculture leads to a reduction in native ant species diversity and an increase in introduced ant species diversity. There were also correlated community compositional changes in both native and introduced species. READ MORE