Diversity under the sun: can solar parks support biodiversity and ecosystem services?

Megvalósítás alatt lévő/Futó projekt

ID: FK142926
Lead researcher: Gallé, Róbert
Planned duration: 2022-2026
Amount of support: 41 984 000 Ft
Funding organisation: NKFIH
Programme: OTKA


Large grassland areas are converted to arable fields or less productive ones are degraded through grassland abandonment. This land-use change and habitat loss are among the primary drivers of grassland biodiversity decline. Mitigating these processes requires solid conservation planning focusing not only on protected areas but also on all grassland habitats, such as the grasslands in solar parks. We aim for a better understanding of the effects of solar park management, size and landscape context on species, trait-based plant and animal community characteristics, associated ecosystem functions and services. We hypotheses are (a) small solar parks and parks managed by grazing or mowing have the highest potential for ecological intensification with the lowest trade-offs between ecosystem services and energy production. (b) Large parks treated by herbicides have the lowest potential and (c) landscape structure affects the potential of large parks less than small parks. We will collect a multi-taxon and multi-trophic dataset including plants, herbivores (carabids and true-bugs), predators (spiders, carabids and true-bugs), pollinators (hoverflies, wild bees), soil fauna (Nematodes, Enchytraeidae, microarthropods). We will measure soil organic carbon storage, decomposition, primary productivity and predation to assess ecosystem functions and services. Our results will enhance the development of proper planning and management that have minimal detrimental environmental impacts and positively contribute to the conservation and promotion of biological diversity, ecosystem functions, and services.