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Review article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Winners and losers of land use change: A systematic review of interactions between the world's crane species (Gruidae) and the agricultural sector

Hemminger, Karoline; Koenig, Hannes; Mansson, Johan; Bellingrath-Kimura, Sonoko-Dorothea; Nilsson, Lovisa


While agricultural intensification and expansion are major factors driving loss and degradation of natural habitat and species decline, some wildlife species also benefit from agriculturally managed habitats. This may lead to high population densities with impacts on both human livelihoods and wildlife conservation. Cranes are a group of 15 species worldwide, affected both negatively and positively by agricultural practices. While eleven species face critical population declines, numbers of common cranes (Grus grus) and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) have increased drastically in the last 40 years. Their increase is associated with higher incidences of crane foraging on agricultural crops, causing financial losses to farmers. Our aim was to synthesize scientific knowledge on the bilateral effects of land use change and crane populations. We conducted a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed publications on agriculture-crane interactions (n = 135) and on the importance of agricultural crops in the diet of cranes (n = 81). Agricultural crops constitute a considerable part of the diet of all crane species (average of 37%, most frequently maize (Zea mays L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)). Crop damage was identified in only 10% of all agriculture-crane interactions, although one-third of interactions included cranes foraging on cropland. Using a conceptual framework analysis, we identified two major pathways in agriculture-crane interactions: (1) habitat loss with negative effects on crane species dependent on specific habitats, and (2) expanding agricultural habitats with superabundant food availability beneficial for opportunistic crane species. The degree to which crane species can adapt to agricultural land use changes may be an important factor explaining their population response. We conclude that multi-objective management needs to combine land sparing and land sharing strategies at landscape scale. To support viable crane populations while guaranteeing sustainable agricultural production, it is necessary to include the perspectives of diverse stakeholders and streamline conservation initiatives and agricultural policy accordingly.


coexistence; conservation conflict; crop damage prevention; crop protection; human-wildlife conflict; human-wildlife interaction; land sharing; land sparing

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2022, Volume: 12, number: 3, article number: e8719
Publisher: WILEY

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    • Associated SLU-program

      Wildlife Damage Centre
      SLU Plant Protection Network

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG15 Life on land
      SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

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