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Susannah Cass (PhD student)

Photo of SusannahResearch Profile

Floral and macro-invertebrate biodiversity and ecosystem services of legume supported crop systems in Europe.

Global declines in biodiversity associated with intensification of farming processes have been widely acknowledged and management systems designed to increase biodiversity are promoted as methods of sustainable agriculture. However, much of the work in this area to date has considered only the general diversity differences between agricultural versus ‘natural’ landscapes. My work will assess the biodiversity value of very specific legume-supported crop systems currently being designed for use in European agriculture and will contribute greatly to the understanding of these currently under-studied systems.
This research is funded by the international Legume Futures project under EU Work package 7 and will be carried out within this framework. Data collected will contribute to an open access online data bank and findings will contribute to the ultimate outputs of the Legume Futures project including publications and EU policy recommendations. Legume Futures is a consortium of 18 scientific partners with 18 established field sites in 12 European countries. The project aims to develop novel sustainable legume-supported crop systems appropriate to specific pedo-climatic regions within Europe. I will assess the biodiversity of flora, ground invertebrates and earthworms in these experimental sites using an assortment of surveying and trapping techniques. The relationship between the diversity of these groups and key ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and natural enemy pest control will also be investigated. The relative impacts of various legume crops, management practices and organic systems will be considered.
 It is hoped that sustainable legume-supported cropping will increase throughout Europe as a result of the Legume Futures project with subsequent beneficial effects on the biodiversity of the European agricultural landscape. Given the reported value ecosystem services associated with biodiversity in agriculture, it may be expected that these changes will contribute significantly to the healthy function and economic prosperity of this sector as a whole.

Contact details

Botany Building, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2. Tel: +353-1-8962208 Email:


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Last updated 4 April 2013