Effect of food price spikes on the provision of ecosystem services: a coupled agent-based and environmental model

Authors and Affiliations: 

Alessandro Gimona and Gary Polhill

The  James Hutton Institute

Aberdeen UK


Food markets have featured a number of spikes in prices in recent years, driven by various social and environmental factors, including speculation on commodity markets, climate-change driven variability in crop yields, and social unrest. Particularly where driven by commodity markets, the spikes may represent a temporary over-pricing of the commodity, which sends a misleading signal to producers for the level of demand for the good in question. Whilst this potentially has a number of significant social consequences, the knock-on effect on biodiversity and ecosystem service provision is no less deserving of attention. In particular, certain species reliant on habitat associated with lowland farming are known to be sensitive to continuity in space and time of habitat provision. In this paper, we present results from an agent-based model of land manager decision-making coupled with a species metacommunity and pollination model. We explore the impacts of price spikes on species diversity and pollination, and the effectiveness of different kinds of agri-environmental incentive scheme on mitigating these outcomes. We relate these outcomes to measures of spatio-temporal fragmentation in habitat provision, and argue that incentive schemes should be aimed at managing this.