Potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem function in small-holder agro-ecosystems in Northern Ghana
Small-holder farmers play an influential role in prevailing environmental conditions across the globe – constituting 80% people in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and 2 billion globally. However, we have a limited understanding of how small-holder farming practices impact ecosystem functions, such as pollination, pest and disease regulation and decomposition. We also need to understand how projected climate change might impact these ecosystem functions and consequently small-holder food production and livelihood security. This study uses the case of vegetable cultivation the Guinea-Savanna zone of Northern Ghana, to investigate insect community structure, composition and functional traits with associated ecosystem functions in temporal analogous climatic areas. Sample areas were identified with CCAFS’ climate analogue tool, using space-for-time substitution along a latitudinal gradient. These contrasting sites allow us to attribute and compare the potential influence of climatic change on the insect community, and the role of biotic and abiotic factors (e.g. soil chemistry, water availability, land cover, flower availability), and management practices and traditional knowledge (e.g. agricultural inputs, crop composition).
Preliminary findings show that in hotter wetter climates we predict a significant decrease in taxonomic diversity and abundance, but an increase in productivity. Results may be used to forecast site and resource suitability in the longer term at the landscape scale, and recommend low input solutions and sustainable intensification for farmers to autonomously manage current and future changes. This study is conducted in collaboration with the UK Natural History Museum and the Ghanain Council for Scientific Industrial Research.