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  1. Agricultural simplification continues to expand at the expense of more diverse forms of agriculture. This simplification, for example, in the form of intensively managed monocultures, poses a risk to keeping the world within safe and just Earth system boundaries. Here, we estimated how agricultural diversification simultaneously affects social and environmental outcomes. Drawing from 24 studies in 11 countries across 2655 farms, we show how five diversification strategies focusing on livestock, crops, soils, noncrop plantings, and water conservation benefit social (e.g., human well-being, yields, and food security) and environmental (e.g., biodiversity, ecosystem services, and reduced environmental externalities) outcomes. We found that applying multiple diversification strategies creates more positive outcomes than individual management strategies alone. To realize these benefits, well-designed policies are needed to incentivize the adoption of multiple diversification strategies in unison.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 5, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Birds increase crop yields via consumption of pests in some contexts but disrupt pest control via intraguild predation in others. Landscape complexity acts as an inconsistent mediator, sometimes increasing, decreasing, or not impacting pest control. Here, we examined how landscape context and seasonal variation mediate the impact of birds on arthropod pests and natural enemies, leaf damage, and yields of broccoli (Brassica oleracea) on highly diversified farms that spanned the USA west coast. Our study had two complementary components: a bird exclusion experiment and molecular diet analysis of 357 fecal samples collected from the most commonly captured bird species that also foraged in Brassica fields—American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), American Robin (Turdus migratorius), Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), and White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). Bird access yielded higher, rather than lower, numbers of pest aphids and increased their parasitism, while no other arthropods examined were consistently impacted. Independent of bird presence, percent natural cover in the landscape sometimes increased and sometimes decreased densities of arthropods in the mid-growth period, with diminishing impacts in the late-growth period. Herbivore feeding damage to broccoli leaves decreased with increasing amounts of natural land cover and in the late-growth period. Molecular diet analysis revealed that Brassica pests and predatory arthropods were relatively uncommon prey for birds. Landscape context did not alter the prey items found in bird diets. Altogether, our bird-exclusion experiment and molecular diet analysis suggested that birds have relatively modest impacts on the arthropods associated with broccoli plantings. More broadly, the limited support in our study for net natural pest control services suggests that financial incentives may be required to encourage the adoption of bird-friendly farming practices in certain cropping systems.

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  3. null (Ed.)
  4. Abstract

    Recent foodborne illness outbreaks have heightened pressures on growers to deter wildlife from farms, jeopardizing conservation efforts. However, it remains unclear which species, particularly birds, pose the greatest risk to food safety. Using >11,000 pathogen tests and 1565 bird surveys covering 139 bird species from across the western United States, we examined the importance of 11 traits in mediating wild bird risk to food safety. We tested whether traits associated with pathogen exposure (e.g., habitat associations, movement, and foraging strategy) and pace‐of‐life (clutch size and generation length) mediated foodborne pathogen prevalence and proclivities to enter farm fields and defecate on crops.Campylobacterspp. were the most prevalent enteric pathogen (8.0%), whileSalmonellaand Shiga‐toxin producingEscherichia coli(STEC) were rare (0.46% and 0.22% prevalence, respectively). We found that several traits related to pathogen exposure predicted pathogen prevalence. Specifically,Campylobacterand STEC‐associated virulence genes were more often detected in species associated with cattle feedlots and bird feeders, respectively.Campylobacterwas also more prevalent in species that consumed plants and had longer generation lengths. We found that species associated with feedlots were more likely to enter fields and defecate on crops. Our results indicated that canopy‐foraging insectivores were less likely to deposit foodborne pathogens on crops, suggesting growers may be able to promote pest‐eating birds and birds of conservation concern (e.g., via nest boxes) without necessarily compromising food safety. As such, promoting insectivorous birds may represent a win‐win‐win for bird conservation, crop production, and food safety. Collectively, our results suggest that separating crop production from livestock farming may be the best way to lower food safety risks from birds. More broadly, our trait‐based framework suggests a path forward for co‐managing wildlife conservation and food safety risks in farmlands by providing a strategy for holistically evaluating the food safety risks of wild animals, including under‐studied species.

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