Symposium | Towards Ecological Intensification

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Towards Ecological Intensification

The Importance of Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Gaia 1, Gaia Building, Wageningen Campus


Meeting the agricultural production for a growing world population in a sustainable way poses us for several challenges. Ecological intensification has been proposed to make better use of the natural ecosystem services, while maintaining agricultural production on a high level and counteracting the negative effects of conventional agriculture on biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. In this symposium, international speakers will shed light on some of the aspects on the shift towards ecological intensification.



08:30 - 09:00 Registration of attendance | Coffee / Tea  
09:00 - 09:05 Welcome word - Thijs Fijen  
09:05 - 09:35

Differences in breeding ecology of skylark and yellow wagtail ask for different conservation approaches?

We studied skylark and yellow wagtail breeding in Eastern Groningen. Although species appear similar in their ecological requirements, we found that the species use the landscape in very different ways. This might explain differences in their declines (skylark crashed, wagtail shows only slight decline) but moreover asks for different conservation actions. Is it at all possible to conserve multiple farmland bird species in the current agricultural landscape?

Dr. Raymond Klaassen, Researcher @ Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands

09:40 - 10:10

Building a business case for taking action to protect pollinators

Although pollinator decline is now a very well-known environmental issue, it is seldom addressed in Corporate Sustainability Reporting, and pollinator management is not always included in agronomy guidance, even for pollinator-dependent crops. This talk presents a Cambridge Conservation Initiative project that set out to build a business case for taking action on pollinators, working across scales from individual farms up to global supply chains. We developed a vulnerability assessment framework, to help identify whether there is a material risk to agricultural supply chains from pollinator decline, and a road map to help businesses decide what actions to take.

Dr. Lynn Dicks, NERC Research Fellow @ University of East Anglia, United Kingdom

10:15 - 10:45

Bugs in the System

Plants are associated with a diverse community of insects at several trophic levels, including pollinators, herbivores and insectivores. Many interactions between members of this associated insect community are mediated by plant traits. Such plant-mediated interactions include the attraction of parasitoids to volatiles released by plants in response to herbivory but may also involve feeding by insects on herbivore-produced excretions such as honeydew. In this presentation I will share the latest insights in plant-mediated interactions among insects and how this resulted in the elucidation of new negative effects of the use of systemic pesticides on beneficial insects.

Prof. Dr. Marcel Dicke, Chair holder Laboratory of Entomology @ Wageningen University, the Netherlands

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee / Tea break  
11:15- 11:45

Ecological intensification for pollinators and food production: insights into CEH research from field to national scales

Claire is a Senior Ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology where she has worked for the past 18 years. Her talk will feature examples of past and present research towards ecological intensification focussed on bumblebees and other insect pollinators. The aim has been to develop evidence-based agri-environment policy using a combination of field observations, experiments, molecular genetics and modelling approaches from field to national scales. Claire is an advisor for England’s National Pollinator Strategy and is currently leading the new UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.”

Dr. Claire Carvell, Senior Ecologist @ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom


    Foto : Nadine Mitschunas

11:50 - 12:20

Reducing grassland land use intensity promotes pollination and yield of adjacent sunflower crop fields, but economic benefits do not outweigh opportunity costs

Ecological intensification, i.e. the integration of ecosystem service management into farming practices, has been advocated as an ecologically sustainable pathway to maintain and improve agricultural productivity, but little is known about its economic sustainability. Using sunflower crop pollination as a model system, we argue that the merits of ecological intensification should be evaluated based on its impact on multiple ecosystem services, including the conservation of intrinsic biodiversity values.

Dr. Jeroen Scheper, Lecturer Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation @ Wageningen University, the Netherlands

12:25 - 12:55

Towards ecological intensification: the relative importance of wild pollinators for seed production

Wild insects provide key pollination services to agricultural crops but at the same time agricultural management is a key driver of pollinator decline. Despite this, few farmers are actively managing wild pollinators, probably because they underestimate the contribution of pollination to crop production relative to that of conventional agricultural management. Here we use the real-world levels of agricultural management and pollination to establish the relative importance of these factors, and to convince the agricultural sector of the need to conserve biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.

Thijs Fijen, postdoc Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation @ Wageningen University, the Netherlands

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch  
16:00 - 17:30 "Public defence Thijs Fijen" @ Aula, (building 362), Generaal Foulkesweg 1, 6703 BG, Wageningen  


General information
Target Group This Symposium is open to all, and aimed at people interested in biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes.
Event duration 1/2 day
Number of credits 0.1 ECTS
Location Room Gaia 1, Gaia Building, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Wageningen, Wageningen Campus, the Netherlands



This symposium is free of charge, open to all, and aimed at people interested in biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes. Registration is necessary. Participation at the symposium includes all coffee/tea breaks and lunch.

PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Up to 1 week prior to the start of the event, cancellation is free of charge.
  • In case of late cancellation or no show, a fee of € 25,- will be charged.
More information

Thijs Fijen (Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation)
Email :

Lennart Suselbeek (Graduate School PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485426


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