Biodiversity underpins all food production and strengthens agricultural
resilience to crop failure. However, agricultural expansion is the
primary driver of biodiversity loss, particularly in the tropics where
crop production is increasing and intensifying rapidly to meet a growing
global food demand. It is therefore crucial to ask, how do different
crops and crop production systems impact biodiversity? Here we show the
increasing intensification of tropical agriculture since 1961, along
with a sharp rise in harvested area. Using meta-analysis, we find that
crop type, rotation time and agricultural intensity, are important
determinants of biodiversity assemblages. Perennial tropical crops that
are grown in shaded plantations or agroforests (e.g., banana and coffee)
support higher alpha-diversity, while those cultivated in unshaded and
often homogeneous plantations (e.g., maize, sugarcane, and oil palm)
have impoverished biodiversity communities, particularly annual crops.
These findings inform our understanding of changes in the ecological
contribution of biodiversity to tropical agriculture.