Ecosystem sustainability of rice and aquatic animal co-culture systems and a synthesis of its underlying mechanisms

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jul 1:880:163314. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.163314. Epub 2023 Apr 6.


Integrated planting and breeding of rice and aquatic animals, including traditional rice-fish co-culture (RF), has been conducted for over 1200 years. It is one of the primary modes of modern ecologically sustainable agriculture. Rice and aquatic animal (RA) co-culture systems reduce risks of environmental pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, maintain soil fertility, stabilize grain incomes, and preserve paddy field biodiversity. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that underlie the ecological sustainability of these systems remain controversial and poorly understood, restricting their practice at a larger scale. Here, the latest advance in understanding the evolution and extension of RA systems is synthesized, in addition to a discussion of the underlying ecological mechanisms of taxonomic interactions, complementary nutrient use, and microbially-driven elemental cycling. Specifically, the aim of this review is to provide a theoretical framework for the design of sustainable agricultural systems by integrating traditional knowledge and modern technologies.

Keywords: Biodiversity; Ecological mechanisms; Ecosystem sustainability; Greenhouse gases; Rice and aquatic animal co-culture systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Ecosystem*
  • Methane
  • Nitrous Oxide / analysis
  • Oryza*
  • Plant Breeding
  • Soil


  • Soil
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Methane