Ecological focus area – EFA: the biological value of olive groves. A case study in Sardinia (Italy)

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Marta Biaggini *
Pietro Lo Cascio
Lara Bassu
Paolo Bazzoffi
Claudia Corti
(*) Corresponding Author:
Marta Biaggini | claudia.corti@unifi.it

Abstract

Among the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) 2015-2020 innovations, a mandatory ‘greening’ component of direct payment has been included to improve sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices in arable lands. Permanent crops1 are considered as ‘greening’ by definition and therefore exempted from additional agronomic duties. So far, however, an adequate knowledge of the real biological value of permanent crops is still lacking. In the present work, realized in the context of the MO.NA.CO. project, we monitored animal diversity in olive-groves characterized by three different managements (from low to medium intensity). Monitoring was carried out in Sardinia (Italy), using different animal groups as bio-indicators: Arthropods, Reptiles and Birds. Considering Arthropod orders and Coleopteran families we did not found significant differences in the overall abundance and in the biodiversity indexes. However, faunal composition clearly varied among managements: moreover, the higher or lesser presence of certain taxa highlighted the existence of microenvironmental variables that may be related, for instance, to the level of soil vegetation cover or to the degree of naturalness of the agroecosystem. Limitedly to the Arthropod diversity, the comparison with other land uses (including data gathered in previous projects) showed a good potentiality of olive groves as ‘ecological focus areas’, at least considering the managements here examined. The monitoring of Reptiles and Birds showed the peculiarity of the olive groves located in a hilly area characterized by non-intensive management, which hosted a rich herpetofauna and a bird community typical of habitats characterized by a high degree of naturalness. The present monitoring provides data for the assessment of the biological value of olive groves and of the potential impact of different managements on faunistic diversity. Future monitoring is needed to improve the knowledge on olive tree plantations characterized by high intensive management.

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