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Applying thermodynamics to understand the links between energy, information, structure and biodiversity in human-transformed landscapes
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  • Joan Marull,
  • Joan Pino,
  • Yolanda Melero,
  • Raimón Puig,
  • Enric Tello
Joan Marull
Autonomous University of Barcelona
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Joan Pino
CREAF
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Yolanda Melero
CREAF
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Raimón Puig
Autonomous University of Barcelona
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Enric Tello
University of Barcelona
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Abstract

Both in natural and in human-made agroecosystems, biodiversity can be understood as a direct function of landscape complexity and an inverse function of energy dissipation. The main difference between them is the external energy driven by farmers’ information that transforms natural ecosystems into agroecosystems. If this is true, can an energy-information-structure model predict biodiversity in cultural landscapes? To that aim, we have developed an Energy-Landscape Integrated Analysis (ELIA) that measures the energy stored through internal loops (E) and the information incorporated into the energy network of agroecosystems (I), to correlate them with the resulting patterns and processes of cultural landscapes (L). This approach integrates the energy flow accounting of agricultural landscapes from an Ecological Economics point of view, and the Landscape Ecology metrics that assess the functional structure of their land covers. ELIA uses the E-I-L indicators to predict the biodiversity location in human-transformed landscapes. We have tested this model on biodiversity data through two different taxonomic groups, butterflies and birds, in the metropolitan region of Barcelona (Spain). The results show positive relationships between butterflies and birds species richness with ELIA, and especially with the variable I: information. This emphasizes how different strategies of agricultural management combined with nature conservation can be approached at some optimal points in the relationship between the energy-information-structure of cultural landscapes and the biodiversity located on them. The ELIA modelling opens a new research agenda that will be very useful for designing more sustainable agroecosystems, metropolitan green infrastructures and land use policies.