Article

The Common Agricultural Policy, EU enlargement and the conservation of Europe’s farmland birds

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Abstract

The populations of many species of farmland bird declined greatly across Europe during the last quarter of the twentieth century, indicating severe damage to the continent’s biodiversity. Recent analyses show that these declines are correlated with agricultural intensity across Europe, and that declines in the European Union (EU) have been greater than in non-Member States. In this review paper, the reasons for the uneven distribution of agricultural intensity and bird population trends across Europe are discussed and the political and economic mechanisms behind agricultural intensification reviewed. In the EU, the driving force behind agricultural intensification has been the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which simultaneously supports greater productivity and inhibits extensification. In eastern Europe, there has been a general reduction in state support for agriculture since the collapse of communism and farmland bird populations have declined far less than in western Europe as a result. However, many countries are hoping to join the EU in the near future, one of several reasons which make reform of the CAP inevitable. The introduction of the CAP in its present form to these countries is likely to damage the important farmland bird populations currently found there. The potential exists to restructure EU support for agriculture to decouple payments from productivity and reward farmers for making environmental improvements to their land. This would facilitate EU enlargement, reduce the costs of producing and storing agricultural surpluses, reduce the external costs of agriculture, allow the EU to comply with international trade agreements and protect and enhance farmland bird populations. A number of possible delivery mechanisms are discussed.

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... Common Farmland birds have declined sharply, especially in the 1980s, a pattern that could be evidenced by statistical analysis from this work (Figure 4). This decline is associated with increased agricultural practices across Europe (intensification), affecting nesting and foraging opportunities [6,7,10,17]. Lowland farmland provides habitat for nearly 120 bird species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) across Europe, the largest number of species with this concern supported by any habitat [17]. ...
... This decline is associated with increased agricultural practices across Europe (intensification), affecting nesting and foraging opportunities [6,7,10,17]. Lowland farmland provides habitat for nearly 120 bird species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) across Europe, the largest number of species with this concern supported by any habitat [17]. Agricultural intensification has had deleterious effects on bird populations at a pan-European scale and should be regarded as a major anthropogenic threat to biodiversity, comparable to global climate change and environmental pollution [8,11,17]. ...
... Lowland farmland provides habitat for nearly 120 bird species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) across Europe, the largest number of species with this concern supported by any habitat [17]. Agricultural intensification has had deleterious effects on bird populations at a pan-European scale and should be regarded as a major anthropogenic threat to biodiversity, comparable to global climate change and environmental pollution [8,11,17]. The most important changes affecting common farmland birds are hedgerow loss, land drainage, increased mechanisation, increased fertiliser and pesticide use, reduction of spring cultivation, simplification of crop rotations, changes in crop use and loss of farm diversity [5]. ...
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Abstract There is a growing concern about the biodiversity crisis the planet is suffering due to increasingly widespread human activity. A key question is whether only the species with threatened status should be managed by policy makers or whether also common species deserve consideration. This study is devoted for common birds, because for the threatened species the decline factors are much better known. As a result of a thorough search, a comparison at the continental scale focusing on European common birds and analysing their main threats and trends depending on their habitats and movements (migratory or sedentary character) has been done. This is therefore a theoretical study that tries to investigate the relationships between these four variables that condition in an important way the state of their populations. The different categorical variables (habitats, movements, threats and trends) were checked together in order to find some relationships between them, using log-linear analysis or contingency tables depending on the number of variables considered. We can conclude that “Threats” are different between both “Habitats” and “Movements” of common birds, which also interact between them. The trends in European common birds are slightly influenced by the habitat they occupy which is at the same time associated with their movements. Studies with this approach in different areas could be valuable to analyse common patterns that could guide conservation efforts and action plans in specific directions and increase their efficiency with less expenditure of resources.
... The policy has also been regarded as one of the major drivers in environmental degradation as it favours intensification (Donald et al., 2002) and resulted in vast amounts of habitat loss, with devastating effects on biodiversity (Brouwer and van Berkum, 1997;Chamberlain et al., 2000;Donald et al., 2002;Henle et al., 2008). In an attempt to rectify some of the damage caused, in 1985 the CAP introduced Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) whereby farmers are subsidised for changing or implementing management strategies to improve environmental well-being. ...
... The policy has also been regarded as one of the major drivers in environmental degradation as it favours intensification (Donald et al., 2002) and resulted in vast amounts of habitat loss, with devastating effects on biodiversity (Brouwer and van Berkum, 1997;Chamberlain et al., 2000;Donald et al., 2002;Henle et al., 2008). In an attempt to rectify some of the damage caused, in 1985 the CAP introduced Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) whereby farmers are subsidised for changing or implementing management strategies to improve environmental well-being. ...
... The declines in many farmland bird species across Europe highlights the effect agriculture intensification has on biodiversity. Since the 1980s Britain saw a decline in farmland bird population and range size that was not present in other bird species (Donald et al., 2002). ...
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Brexit will require the UK to adopt a new UK agricultural policy. This change has been publicised as a positive outcome of Brexit with the potential to improve the environment whilst also supporting a technological revolution of the industry. This study investigated these claims by discussing key points raised within the new policy with important stakeholders and eliciting the views of farmers through a questionnaire-based survey. The study found that the main concept of the policy, “payments for public goods” puts environmental well-being at the forefront rather than in the background and farmers and stakeholders are generally supportive of this direction. However, the other critical premise of the new policy, Agri-Tech, received an underwhelming response from stakeholders and farmers. Issues raised in this study along with other unforeseen challenges that Brexit will bring need to be addressed to prevent them undermining this opportunity.
... Farming is the dominant land use in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin in particular, where agriculture has had a significant influence on ecosystems for millennia (Blondel & Aronson 1999, Grove & Rackham 2001, Allen 2001, Arga & Ne'eman 2009, Stoate et al. 2009, Oppermann et al. 2012. Lowintensity farming systemsoften associated with traditional practices and more marginal landcreate important habitats for wildlife in Europe and biodiversity conservation is, to a large degree, dependent on the continuation of such systems (Tucker & Heath 1994, Tucker & Evans 1997, Beaufoy et al. 1994, Bignal & McCracken 1996, Donald et al. 2002, BirdLife International 2004, Stoate et al. 2009, Oppermann et al. 2012, Lomba et al. 2015. Abandonment of active farming in low intensity systems or conversion to more intensive agriculture have both been identified as major threats to many species of conservation concern and notably bird species that are open-country specialists, mainly because abandonment and intensification lead to shifts to less heterogeneous habitats (Tucker & Heath 1994, Tucker & Evans 1997, Benton et al. 2003, Green et al. 2005, Suarez-Seoane et al. 2002, Donald et al. 2002, Sirami et al. 2008, Stoate et al. 2009, Doxa et al. 2010. ...
... Lowintensity farming systemsoften associated with traditional practices and more marginal landcreate important habitats for wildlife in Europe and biodiversity conservation is, to a large degree, dependent on the continuation of such systems (Tucker & Heath 1994, Tucker & Evans 1997, Beaufoy et al. 1994, Bignal & McCracken 1996, Donald et al. 2002, BirdLife International 2004, Stoate et al. 2009, Oppermann et al. 2012, Lomba et al. 2015. Abandonment of active farming in low intensity systems or conversion to more intensive agriculture have both been identified as major threats to many species of conservation concern and notably bird species that are open-country specialists, mainly because abandonment and intensification lead to shifts to less heterogeneous habitats (Tucker & Heath 1994, Tucker & Evans 1997, Benton et al. 2003, Green et al. 2005, Suarez-Seoane et al. 2002, Donald et al. 2002, Sirami et al. 2008, Stoate et al. 2009, Doxa et al. 2010. This loss of heterogeneity can occurand has an impact on biodiversityat both farm and landscape scales, through crop specialization and loss of landscape features such as hedgerows and fallow land (Benton et al. 2003). ...
... HNVf systems are typically low intensity (low inputs of fertilizers and pesticides; low mechanization and stocking levels), with high structural diversity and heterogeneity. HNVf systems include areas devoted to annual and perennial crops, but also semi-natural grass or scrub-dominated systems used for hay production or extensive grazing (Donald et al. 2002, BirdLife International 2004, Stoate et al. 2009, Doxa et al. 2010, Oppermann et al. 2012, Lomba et al. 2015. The importance of HNVf for biodiversity conservation has been widely recognized (Bignal & McCracken 2000, Stoate et al. 2009, Oppermann et al. 2012, Doxa et al. 2010, 2012, though the idea of 'land sparing' of areas for 're-wilding' for biodiversity, as opposed to the integrated 'land sharing' approach typified by HNVf, has also gained traction in recent years (Benayas & Bullock 2012, Balmford et al. 2012. ...
Article
Capsule: Breeding bird survey data were used to compare biodiversity at sites defined as High Nature Value farmland (HNVf) under two different mapping models. Aims To examine whether farmland classified as HNVf was important for bird diversity and conservation of priority bird species in Cyprus, through comparison of two different HNVf maps. The HNV concept aims to define biodiversity-rich farmland and facilitate its protection and management. Heterogeneous, low-intensity cropping and grazing systems are important areas for biodiversity conservation in Europe and for birds in particular, but are threatened by abandonment and agricultural intensification. We compared two HNVf mapping systems, a simpler model based on land cover data (CLC map) and a more complex Cyprus Environment Department model (ED map) including layers relating to agricultural intensity. Methods: Line transect bird surveys were carried out to compare bird diversity, abundance of farmland bird species of conservation priority and also of the endemic Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax, at sites classified as HNV or not. Results: A greater diversity of breeding birds was found in sites classified as HNVf under combined ED and CLC maps. However, for the set of 12 priority bird species, neither HNV mapping approach encompassed their overall abundance, but a combined CLC and ED model did predict higher abundances of the Cyprus Warbler. Vineyard sites were found to be associated with high overall breeding bird diversity, but with low abundance of priority bird species. Conclusion: We identified weaknesses in both mapping systems, with the ED model failing to capture all HNV grazing land and the CLC model defining some intensive farming systems as HNV. We conclude that the overlap between the two models best captures HNVf, but layers encompassing grazing land and priority habitats need to be added to better define HNVf in Cyprus and facilitate its protection and management.
... The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) has traditionally been identified as one of the main causes of agricultural intensification in Europe (Donald et al., 2002), and this intensification has strongly reduced the biodiversity in European agroecosystems (Donald et al., 2001;2002;Voříšek et al., 2010). The 2014 EU CAP has, therefore, progressively integrated different instruments with which to support the environment with the aim of enhancing the biodiversity in agri-cultural landscapes (Pe'er et al., 2019). ...
... The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) has traditionally been identified as one of the main causes of agricultural intensification in Europe (Donald et al., 2002), and this intensification has strongly reduced the biodiversity in European agroecosystems (Donald et al., 2001;2002;Voříšek et al., 2010). The 2014 EU CAP has, therefore, progressively integrated different instruments with which to support the environment with the aim of enhancing the biodiversity in agri-cultural landscapes (Pe'er et al., 2019). ...
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Aim of the study: Traditional vineyards have, in the last few decades, been transformed into trellis systems, but little research has been carried out into the consequences as regards biodiversity. We compared the abundance and species richness of reptiles in conventional-traditional vineyards and trellis vineyards. Area of study: The study was conducted in a wine appellation area of origin denominated as Montilla-Moriles, Southern Spain. Material and methods: Reptile’s species richness and abundance were estimated by walking transects in 24 different vineyards (12 trellis and 12 traditional vineyards) in four consecutive years. Main results: The results showed an extremely low abundance in both management systems, since no reptiles were recorded in 43.1% of the transects. However, there was a greater abundance and diversity of reptiles in the traditional vineyards than in the trellis vineyards, with 7 vs. 3 species being found in traditional and trellis vineyards, respectively. Research highlights: The lack of refuge in trellis vineyards owing to the vertical growth of plants, whose branches grow higher from the ground, is probably the main cause of the lower abundance and species richness found in trellis systems, since both types of vineyard had bare ground owing to ploughing and the application of herbicides. Since the transformation of traditional vineyards into those with trellis systems is often subsidized, this modernization should be accompanied by certain agri-environmental measures (e.g., cover crops, artificial refuges or natural hedges) in order to compensate for the associated negative effects.
... Current research mainly adopts the index system evaluation method [23][24][25][26] and the value accounting method [27,28] to measure the richness and intensity of sub-functions. Foreign research often takes typical villages, communities, or individual farms as their objects of study [29][30][31] and focuses on connotation and transformation [32][33][34][35], the systematicness and endogenous mechanism of the village functions [36,37], and the governance and policy making of villages [38][39][40][41][42][43]. Their scale of study objects now show the tendency to be of larger scales [44,45]. ...
... Recently, research on multifunctions that take villages as the smallest study unit are increasing and find that villages' sub-functions are remarkably influenced by cities [24]. Spatially, the levels of villages' multifunctions decrease as their distances to cities increase [14], and villages' non-agricultural functions like social security functions and economic functions are distributed close to cities [39,44,61]. Although the above-mentioned progresses have proven the distinctive role played by cities in the differentiation of village multifunctions, they still have not explored in depth the specific mechanisms of urban action on the formation of village functions. ...
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In recent years, in rural geographic studies, the topic of multifunctions of rural areas has been gaining increasing interest, especially in China, which, as an agricultural power, is undergoing new urbanization and rural revitalization. As far as China is concerned, to classify administrative villages from the perspective of their functions will contribute to scientifically guiding the configuration of urban-rural factors in terms of different regions and villages multifunctional types. This paper takes 3042 administrative villages of Tai’an city of Shandong province in eastern China as its basic study units and establishes a mapping system between land use types and rural territorial sub-functions, identifies their multifunctional types via cluster analysis, quantitatively analyzes their influencing factors with multivariate logistic regression, and summarizes their spatial structure characteristics. The results show that: 3042 administrative villages in Tai’an city can be functionally classified into seven types. The village multifunctional types are jointly decided by cities and natural production conditions. The distribution of all types of villages shows a “non-agricultural production to agricultural production” outward expansion structure. Our study can expand the research contents and methods of rural territorial multifunction.
... Many terrestrial bird species have adapted and rely on this semi-natural environment, finding suitable breeding or wintering habitats in it (Tucker and Heath, 1994;Tucker and Evans, 1997;Robinson et al., 2001). However, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a milestone for European agriculture, has been a turning point for farmland biodiversity (Donald et al., 2002;Reif and Vermouzek, 2019;Traba and Morales, 2019). The deep and quick modernization of European farming practices after the CAP, with a marked agricultural intensification in a short time (Matson et al., 1997;Pain and Pienkowski, 1997;Reif and Vermouzek, 2019), has driven strong declines of many farmland bird species (Donald et al., 2001;Benton et al., 2002;Donald et al., 2002;Storkey et al., 2012). ...
... However, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a milestone for European agriculture, has been a turning point for farmland biodiversity (Donald et al., 2002;Reif and Vermouzek, 2019;Traba and Morales, 2019). The deep and quick modernization of European farming practices after the CAP, with a marked agricultural intensification in a short time (Matson et al., 1997;Pain and Pienkowski, 1997;Reif and Vermouzek, 2019), has driven strong declines of many farmland bird species (Donald et al., 2001;Benton et al., 2002;Donald et al., 2002;Storkey et al., 2012). Agricultural intensification has led to landscape-level changes (landscape composition and configuration through changes in land use and plot size), but also to changes in agricultural practices within land-uses (e.g. ...
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Many farmland bird populations are declining, and their negative trends are often associated with changes in land-use or farming practices, including the use of agrochemicals. The red-legged partridge (RLP) is a Mediterranean farmland game species of high socio-economic importance whose populations are thought to have declined sharply since the mid-20th century associated with farmland changes. However, no large-scale studies have tested whether abundance or trends of RLP are related to farmland composition or management. We used hierarchical distance sampling models to estimate RLP abundance in 2010 in central Spain (Castilla-La Mancha), a main European population stronghold of this species. We studied associations between RLP density and land-uses (including variation in management: irrigated crops or organic farming). We also assessed regional abundance variation over seven years (2010–2017) and its relationship with changes in land-use. Our results show that RLP abundance increased with the availability of natural vegetation and traditional rain-fed vineyards, but decreased with increasing proportions of tree crops and irrigated vineyards; the latter association was less pronounced in areas sensitive to nitrate contamination in water, where the amount of fertilizers applied in farmland and use of certain farming practices is more strictly regulated. These results support the idea that increases in intensive vineyards are detrimental to the RLP. We also report a strong population decline of RLP in the region, with a 51% abundance reduction in seven years. This decline was steeper in areas where more natural vegetation had been lost and where ecological tree crops had increased. Overall, our results indicate that changes in land-use (type of crop, or the destruction of natural vegetation in farmland) and farming practices (e.g. use of irrigation in certain crops, use of nitrates) have important impacts on this farmland bird, affecting both spatial distribution and population dynamics.
... However, during late March and early April, when Great Bustards are counted (see below), livestock are normally concentrated on fallows, pastures and grasslands, and rarely cereals.Intensification of agricultural systems has accelerated across the region since Spain and Portugal joined the EU in 1986, especially through the introduction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in (Brady et al. 2009). In extensive agricultural systems, CAP promoted increased agricultural productivity involving an increase in irrigated crops, decrease in fallows and stubbles, and increased livestock densities(Donald et al. 2002; Jones et al. 2011). For example, in Castro Verde in southern Alentejo, between 2000, the area occupied by ...
... For the future sustainability of Great Bustard populations in Extremadura and Alentejo, and possibly for other associated farmland birds in the region as well, careful planning of the development of agricultural practices in the region is crucial.Protection of a sufficient amount of breeding habitat is a key, but the management of the existing habitats for conservation is also important. More specifically, reduction of livestock densities in areas that hold Great Bustards is especially challenging in respect to the large spatial effects of the CAP in Europe(Donald et al. 2002;, and the possible subsequent effects of CAP on farmland birds. However, it is important that the regional administrations in Extremadura and Alentejo find successful measures to allow sustainable agriculture, perhaps via the respective networks of Special Protection Areas -Zonas de Especial Protección para las Aves (ZEPA) in Spain, and Zonas de Protecção Especial (ZPE) in Portugal.Conservation-based management of protected areas in the region has the potential to lead to beneficial processes for biodiversity, potentially through the implementation of agri-environmental schemes(Brady et al. 2009). ...
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Land-use change is the single most important cause of global biodiversity loss. Over millennia, European grassland birds concentrated in low-intensity agro-steppe habitats that are now experiencing intensification largely in line with European market forces. Great Bustard (Otis tarda, GB) is a globally threatened species and a symbol of the Iberian agro-steppes. In Extremadura (Spain) and Alentejo (Portugal) the conservation status of GB and other agro-steppe species is unclear. GB subpopulations were monitored in these two regions between 1985 and 2015, and their trends were related to land-use changes using open-access databases. There was regional variation in trends, and I report here a sharp decline in numbers across the study area since 2010. Trends were not related to moderate reduction of agro steppe habitats, but were negatively related to changes in livestock densities, implying that livestock management of habitats is crucial for conservation. Using field counts in spring 2017 across a network of EU Special Protected Areas (SPAs) designated to protect GB, I found that GB is not a good indicator for other agro steppe species of conservation concern. Selection of further indicator species is recommended for better conservation of agro-steppe bird assemblage. In an SPA in Extremadura, GB productivity rates decreased dramatically between 2005 and 2016. If current productivity rates continue, population modelling predicts a steep decline in numbers at this site. Results of this study raise concerns over the function of the SPA network in Extremadura and Alentejo to protect GB and their agro steppe habitat. To sustain numbers of GB and other agro-steppe species, their habitats need to be better protected from further intensification, including control of livestock densities, preferably using agro-environmental schemes in PAs.
... Greening supports action to adopt and maintain farming practices that help meet environmental and climate goals (Donald et al., 2002;Kovács, 2017;Ovenden et al., 1998). Mainly the urbanisation and agricultural intensification are responsible for biodiversity loss, environmental or landscape changing and environment degradation (Firbank et al., 2008;Gaston, 2005;Luck et al., 2004). ...
... Although the role of "green infrastructure" in the biodiversity conservation and human welfare is increasingly well-known, for the evaluation of the effectiveness of agri-environmental schemes, many investigations should be made (Kleijn and Sutherland, 2003;Gordon et al., 2009;Jorgensen and Gobster, 2010). This is especially necessary in the Central and Middle European countries because in this region the biodiversity is higher, while the agriculture is less intensive then in West European region (Donald et al., 2002;EEA, 2003;Jeanneret et al., 2003). ...
Article
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The goal of agri-environmental schemes (AES) and greening programs are protecting and increasing biodiversity in agricultural lands. The evaluation of effectiveness of AES needs further investigations. For the purpose of investigations, species and species groups should be selected which can indicate the effects of changes in landscape use on biodiversity. Bumblebees are good indicators for this purpose. The role of bumblebees in pollination is well studied but in the case of different crops, much less detailed data are available. In 2018, bumblebee assemblages of 44 sites belonged to 8 different agricultural and semi-natural habitat types were studied in the surroundings of Sajószöged, Tiszaújváros and Derecske. This study provides new distribution data of 8 bumblebee species in three 10×10 km UTM cells covering the sampling area. According to our results, the alfalfa and red clover fields and semi-natural grasslands has more species rich and abundant bumblebee assemblages than different crop fields (sunflower, oilseed radish and vegetable morrow) and can help protect bumblebee assemblages of agricultural lands. Based on the collected distribution and abundance data, the role of the bumblebees in pollination of the studied crops should be re-evaluated.
... However, the fact remains that in recent decades, species previously identified as common have become rare as a result of more intensive agricultural production (Krebs et al., 1999;Robinson, Sutherland, 2002). Such decline in the biodiversity of agroecosystems is evident in many countries of the European Union, which is also related to the type of functioning agricultural policy (Donald et al., 2002). The increase in agricultural land areas leads to dramatic changes in the structure of landscape, which is now becoming more uniform, and seminatural habitats characterized by rich biodiversity become smaller and more isolated, due to cultural landscape fragmentation (Duelli, Obrist, 2003). ...
Article
The worrying phenomenon of our times is a rapid decline in the biodiversity, that is directly related to the disorder in environmental sustainability. However, the question is whether before the appearance of the Homo sapiens there was a greater eco-sustainability? Or maybe even without the presence of the man such state would be rather correlated with some natural processes, that happen independently of our interference? The paper attempts to explain the relativity of environmental sustainability described by the Red Queen Hypothesis (RQH). That model presents competition in nature, which may be extrapolated to all interactions in the world of living organisms. The RQH shows that in the evolutionary terms not keeping pace on the run threatens not only progress but also poses an increasing risk of elimination of a given individual. So in that way environmental sustainability is relative and the model explains the probability of a constant extinction, so in fact a fall.
... (i) Controversial division of funds and payments allocated per hectare owned, which favoured larger, richer farmers and landowners (Bateman and Balmford, 2018) (ii) Distortion of the marketplace and land prices (Latruffe and Le Mouël, 2009) (iii) Detrimental impact on the natural environment (Brouwer and van Berkum, 1997;Donald et al., 2002) To address some of these criticisms, the CAP introduced considerations for environmental protection through cross-compliance measures, greening payments, and AES. The cross-compliance and greening measures provided a minimal regulatory requirement for environmental protection; the voluntary AES were more ambitious in their attempt to reverse the damage caused by intensification. ...
... Indeed, Article 10 of the BD stresses the need for research as the basis for protection, management, and use of bird species and populations. Furthermore, birds have been demonstrated to be effective indicators to measure and monitor biodiversity (Gregory et al. 2005, Klvanova et al. 2009, Pellissier et al. 2013 and, through their responses, have provided evidence of the impacts of policies implementation and related habitats management (Kleijn et al. 2001, Donald et al. 2002, Gamero et al. 2017, Reif and Vermouzek 2019. Therefore, in this study we conducted a literature review to deepen our knowledge of Natura 2000 in relation to bird conservation. ...
Article
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The Natura 2000 network, the pillar of biodiversity conservation in Europe, still shows some knowledge gaps after almost 30 years since its implementation. As birds are a taxonomic group that is underrepresented in the literature related to Natura 2000 compared to their importance in the EU Directives, this review investigated the characteristics of the scientific research dedicated to birds in relation to Natura 2000. This review focused on 169 peer-reviewed articles covering a period of 25 years (1995–2019). Most studies were set within single Natura 2000 site or regions within countries, and concerned terrestrial habitats, particularly wetlands. The terrestrial Mediterranean biogeographical region and marine Atlantic region had the greatest number of publications, while Spain, Italy, and France were the countries with the highest number of reviewed articles. The number of publications was correlated to Natura 2000 coverage at both country and biogeographical region level. Bird species were studied mainly at a community or single-species level and most publications studied distribution and occurrence of the bird species of interest, while very few assessed the conservation status of the species. Only a few articles set within Natura 2000 sites addressed the issues of habitat suitability for birds or the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Both Annex I and non-Annex I bird species were examined in the literature, with most species having decreasing population trends at the European scale. Future research on bird conservation and Natura 2000 should focus on marine ecosystems as well as habitats that have received less attention despite their important role in a changing future (alpine and urban types). Moreover, future studies should encompass larger spatial scales and those species for which status and trends are still not thoroughly investigated. Finally, it would be important to enhance research efforts on the conservation status and effectiveness in relation to the network.
... Indeed, in the last decades, ornithologists quantified the decline of farmland species (Burns et al. 2021), studied its mechanistic causes (Butler et al. 2010), proposed solutions for mitigation (Concepción and Díaz 2019), and set priorities for conservation (Morrison et al. 2021). These studies all agreed in reporting that the strong decline of farmland birds across the continent has been unquestionably related to the intensification of farming practices and the abandonment of marginal lands favoured by the CAP (Donald et al. 2002;Sanderson et al. 2013). ...
... Green agriculture is a crucial part of this global sustainable development blueprint [19]. Many nations have made reasonable attempts to realize green agriculture, including ecologically friendly farmland circulation emphasizing the maintenance of farmland quantities (see, e.g., the Conservation Reserve Program of the United States [20]; Common Agricultural Policy in the European Union [21]; Summer Fallow in Australia [22]; the Ecological Farming System of Farmland Circulation in China [23]) and measures aimed at maintaining the farmland quality, especially avoiding farmland pollution. There are numerous pollution sources in farmland, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides [24,25], agriculture film [26], municipal refuse [27], and industrial sewage [28]. ...
Article
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This study addresses differentiation among small-scale farmers’ preferences for green agriculture policy incentive mixes. Transforming modern agriculture to ecological fertilization and pest extermination practices is paramount in developing green agriculture, but policy incentives aimed at stimulating small-scale farmers’ adoption of ecological fertilization and deinsectization techniques are often challenged by those farmers’ heterogeneous characteristics and their consequent mixed incentive preferences. We establish a model examining the interplay between small-scale farmers’ characteristics (e.g., age, education level, family size, participation in agricultural organization) and combinations of incentive policies (i.e., green subsidy, technical support, environmental propaganda, agricultural insurance) in farmers’ willingness to participate in ecological fertilization/deinsectization, using a sample of 1032 Chinese farmers. By applying a mixed logit model and latent class model regressions, we find that farmers’ age, education level, family size, and farming organization participation are the most important characteristics influencing farmers’ preferences. Specifically, senior farmers tend to accept an incentive policy combination of green subsidy and technical support; farmers with higher education levels prefer an incentive policy combination of technical support and environmental propaganda; and larger families prefer an incentive policy combination of technical support and agricultural insurance. Additionally, participation in any agricultural organization reduces the household’s preference for incentive policy combinations of technical support, agricultural insurance, and green subsidy. Based on these findings, a typology of small farmers’ green agriculture incentive preferences (including security, monetary, and autonomy orientations) is proposed, offering suggestions for future green agriculture policy optimization.
... Landscapes in Western Europe have been subject to agricultural intensification for decades, leading to the removal of non-agricultural structures, such as woodland and hedgerows, and the loss of low-intensity farmland (Donald et al., 2002). As the landscape shapes become more regular through the removal of non-agricultural structures, the geometric complexity of patches in the landscape -hereafter referred to as landscape heterogeneity-decrease (Moser et al., 2002). ...
Article
Traditional forms of agriculture have created and preserved heterogeneous landscapes characterized by semi-natural meadows and pastures, which have high conversation value for biodiversity. Landscapes in Central and Eastern European countries with traditional agriculture are a stronghold for pollinators, butterflies and amphibians, which have declined in other parts of Europe. Despite different landscape structures, agriculture-associated pesticide exposure in streams can be similarly high as in Western Europe. This raises the question whether the heterogeneous landscape can buffer a temporary water quality decline by agriculture. We investigated the influence of landscape heterogeneity and water quality, in particular pesticide exposure, on macroinvertebrate communities in 19 small streams in Central Romania. We sampled the macroinvertebrate community, assessed the ecosystem function of leaf litter decomposition and analyzed the parasite prevalence in Baetis sp. and Gammarus balcanicus. No association between pesticide toxicity towards macroinvertebrates and several macroinvertebrate metrics was found. However, the level of pesticide toxicity was generally high, constituting a rather short gradient, and the pesticide indicator SPEARpesticides implied pesticide-driven community change in all sites. Landscape heterogeneity and forested upstream sections were among the most important drivers for the macroinvertebrate metrics, indicating increased dispersal and recolonization success. Agricultural land use in the catchment was negatively associated with vulnerable macroinvertebrate taxa such as Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera. G. balcanicus dominated the shredder taxa and its abundance was positively associated with the pesticide indicator SPEARpesticides. Parasite prevalence in G. balcanicus increased with extensive land use (pastures and forests), whereas it decreased with arable land. Our results suggest that heterogeneous landscapes with structures of low-intensive land use may buffer the effects of agricultural land use and facilitate dispersal and recolonization processes of pesticide-affected macroinvertebrate communities.
... This challenge is also being faced in Ireland where the landscape has undergone many changes in recent years, including the intensification and specialisation of agricultural practices, increased levels of afforestation of open landscapes and the introduction of wind farms (Sustainable Energy Ireland 2003, Pearse-Higgins et al. 2012, DAFM 2018. These changes have been identified as the main drivers of decline in farmland birds, affecting habitats used for both foraging and breeding, and increasing predation risk (Donald et al. 2002, Newton 2004, Butler et al. 2010, Ó hUallacháin et al. 2015. A further driver of the decline of ground-nesting birds in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe is the transition of contiguous open landscapes of peatlands and high nature value grasslands to fragmented mosaic habitats consisting of afforested lands (Berg 1992, Benton et al. 2003, Reino et al. 2009, Guerrero et al. 2012. ...
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Habitat loss and degradation have been identified as some of the main threats to breeding Curlew across much of Europe. In Ireland, marginal habitats such as rough or wet grasslands and peatlands have been fragmented or degraded by activities including afforestation, drainage and intensification. The management implemented by landowners directly affects Curlew breeding territories. However, the values and perceptions held by landowners whose lands contain Curlew breeding territories, or the factors driving the decisions behind farming practices in these areas are rarely considered when looking at the causes of changes in these bird populations. This study, as part of the Curlew Conservation Programme established in 2017, gathered data through the distribution of questionnaires to landowners found within three kilometres of Curlew breeding territories in Ireland. In this study, we identify the current land uses being employed in Curlew breeding territories, and query future projections of land use in these areas. We investigate landowners’ perceptions of the requirements to sustain favourable environments for breeding Curlew. We also explore landowner values with respect to farming. The landowners in this study identified habitat loss and predation as the main drivers for Curlew declines. The majority of farming systems in this study were cattle rearing, the sustainability of which is under threat across Ireland. The results indicate that these landowners are not financially motivated, however, the availability of financial aid and expert advice are listed by landowners as requirements for traditional farming practices to continue. These results give an insight to the lifestyle, values and perceptions owners of land adjacent or within Curlew breeding territories. This information can be used to design Curlew conservation programmes that align with these values.
... Bird diversity is known to approximately represent the total diversity of the ecosystem (Reif et al., 2016). The successful protection and management of the diverse array of bird species in Turkey can only be achieved with an understanding of their relations with environmental, climatic, and topographic factors (Donald et al., 2002;Kosicki & Chylarecki, 2012). The potential impacts of these factors and the consequent temporal changes that occur can be estimated by determining which of these factors are more influential (Grumbin, 1994). ...
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Aim of study: The main purpose of the study is to determine the site factors affecting bird diversity. Area of study: This study was performed in the Çandır District, Isparta which is located inner part of the Western Mediterranean region. Material and methods: In present study, Observations were conducted regularly in a total of 43 sample sites in Çandır District, throughout each month in 2016. Also, each sample site was observed using point-counting techniques from the direct observation techniques. In the present study, alpha diversity (Species richness, Menhinick, Margalef, Shannon-Wiener, Brillouin, Simpson, Berger-Parker, and Fisher's Alpha) values were calculated, and significant variables were determined by using correlation analysis. Main results: A significant correlation (p=0.05) was determined between alpha diversity values and both environmental and climatic variables. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to compare alpha diversity indexes with each other. Species richness, Shannon, and Brillouin indexes were determined as the variables having the strongest correlation with environmental variables. Highlights: A better understanding of factors affecting bird species diversity, which are sensitive species of ecosystems, is of great importance for the detection and monitoring of future changes. Especially when it is considered in terms of parameter selection for modeling studies, the mentioned importance increases even more. Therefore, it is thought that the results of this research will be important both in terms of studies conducted in Çandır District and in terms of studies on bird diversity.
... Agriculture in Europe underwent significant modification in the past few decades, mainly due to socio-political changes (e.g., , 2002, Robinson & Sutherland 2002, Wretenberg et al. 2007). This includes former collectivization in recent post-socialistic countries or latter application of Common Agricultural Policy under the European Union (EU) (e.g., Bignal & McCracken 2000, Donald et al. 2002, Reif & Hanzelka 2016, Reif & Vermouzek 2019, Šumrada et al. 2021). These changes have resulted in the intensification of farming practices and homogenization of farmland structure at multiple spatial scales (see, e.g., Krebs et al. 1999, 2002, Benton et al. 2003, Chrenková 2021, and below for details), or, abandonment of less productive land (MacDonald et al. 2000, Robinson & Sutherland 2002, Mikulić et a. 2014. ...
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This study describes the effect of farming practices, farmland utilization, and habitat composition in farmland settlements on the distribution and population density of the House Sparrow. Another goal of this study was to describe food availability for offspring and habitat use in rural and urban settlements. The results imply the importance of farms, their surroundings, small-scale farming, and the presence of natural habitats (shrubs, trees, ruderal vegetation) for the local House Sparrow populations. Increased home range size and flight distance were found in urban breeding pairs, implying the absence or lower availability of critical food sources in the urban environment. Future perspectives, threats, and management recommendations to prevent negative factors affecting House Sparrows and the entire bird community inhabiting similar habitats are discussed in this study.
... However, increasing EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies mainly contributed to agricultural intensification, which does not benefit biodiversity either in post-soviet or in WE member states (Pe'er et al., 2014(Pe'er et al., , 2020Leventon et al., 2017). The adverse effects of CAP were well known before it was introduced to new member states in 2004 (Donald et al., 2002), yet it was applied without any correction or modification to the local context (Báldi and Batáry, 2011b). Therefore, large scale significant changes in the environment happened since the regime change in CEE, without considering scientific advice and research evidence (Sutcliffe et al., 2015). ...
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One of the main goals of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is to avoid further loss of biodiversity and to restore ecosystems. These efforts can be facilitated by compiling the main research topics related to conservation biology to provide new evidence for the most urgent knowledge gaps, and publicise it to researchers, research funders and policy makers. We used the possible future statements from the Hungarian Environmental Foresight Report for 2050 which identified region-specific problems. To highlight likely future environmental and conservation questions, in this study we asked researchers from the fields of ecology and conservation to define research questions addressing these future statements in line with international research trends and challenges. The study resulted in fourteen priority research topics, split into seven clusters relevant to biological conservation that should be targeted by stakeholders, primarily policy makers and funders to focus research capacity to these topics. The main overarching themes identified here include a wide range of approaches and solutions such as innovative technologies, involvement of local stakeholders and citizen scientists, legislation, and issues related to human health. These indicate that solutions to conservation challenges require a multidisciplinary approach in design and a multi-actor approach in implementation. Although the identified research priorities were listed for Hungary, they are in line with European and global biodiversity strategies, and can be tailored to suit other Central and Eastern European countries as well. We believe that our prioritisation can help science–policy discussion, and will eventually contribute to healthy and well-functioning ecosystems.
... This is especially relevant in developing countries, where the expansion of agriculture is proving to be devastating for wildlife (Kehoe et al., 2017;Zabel et al., 2019). However, as proven in this thesis and other studies (Donald et al., 2002), at the European level the agricultural intensification resulting from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has also had a negative impact and it is clear that so far the measures taken within the successive renewals of the CAP have not been able to completely mitigate this negative effect. In fact, as demonstrated in this thesis and other contemporary works, at present the most important European populations of some highly relevant farmland bird species, such as little bustard, pin-tailed sandgrouse, black-bellied sandgrouse, Dupont's lark, or red-legged partridge, continue to decline sharply (García de la Morena et al., 2018;Gómez-Catasús et al., 2018;Cabodevilla et al., 2020;Mougeot et al., 2021). ...
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La agricultura está sufriendo un enorme proceso de intensificación en las ultimas décadas, en una carrera por aumentar la productividad de las tierras de cultivo en respuesta a la creciente demanda de alimentos. Sin embargo, esta rápida intensificación de los agro-ecosistemas esta siendo muy negativa para muchas especies de aves asociadas al medio agrario. Entre ellas, cabe destacar las aves esteparias (como la avutarda, el sisón, la ganga ibérica o la ganga ortega), las cuales tienen un alto interés de conservación, y algunas aves cinegéticas como la perdiz roja que, además, tienen un gran interés socio-económico. Además, el declive poblacional de las especies cinegéticas ha generado a su vez una intensificación de la gestión cinegética. Teniendo esto en cuenta, el objetivo principal de esta tesis es arrojar luz sobre algunas cuestiones poco estudiadas relacionadas con la intensificación de los entornos agrícolas que podrían ayudar a explicar el declive de las aves agrícolas, con el fin de proporcionar información y recomendaciones relevantes para la conservación de estas especies. A lo largo de esta tesis se describe el efecto de la implementación de nuevos regadíos y la modernización de los viñedos sobre la comunidad de aves, la relación entre la abundancia y tendencia poblacional de la perdiz roja y los usos de suelo y prácticas agrarias, la relación entre las sueltas de perdiz roja y la tendencia poblacional del sisón, la dieta de estas especies y la importancia del parasito Blastocystis spp. en las poblaciones de estas especies. Además, se describe un nuevo marcador molecular para el estudio de la dieta y parasitología de las aves, a partir de heces, mediante metabarcoding.
... In these years, this topic has played an important role due to the increasing intensification of agriculture, which has generated losses of semi-natural habitats and crop diversity [46][47][48]. In this scenario, the interest of academics is focusing on whether or not CAP reforms really facilitate increases in biodiversity [49,50]. ...
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The last few years have been marked by the increasing attention paid by policymakers to agricultural policies. Within this scenario, the Common Agricultural Policy represents one of the main initiatives developed by the European Commission to enhance the agricultural sector. Academics have actively contributed to the debate through empirical studies in order to evaluate the main strengths and weakness related to the public investments made by the European Commission. However, despite the relevance of the topic, the scientific debate is characterized by a high degree of fragmentation caused by the involvement of academics with different scientific backgrounds. Building on this evidence, this paper aims to contribute to the scientific debate on Common Agricultural Policy through a bibliometric analysis. The findings reveal the existence of three independent and complementary research clusters.
... The distribution of birds throughout the wetland area is related to the biological and ecological criteria characteristic of both the species and the site (Houhamdi, 1998;Houhamdi and Samraoui, 2002). Understanding the relationships between species richness and environmental factors is fundamental for better management and conservation (Donald et al., 2002;Kosicki and Chylarecki, 2012). The physico-chemical parameters of wetlands (salinity, PH, temperature, oxygen levels, mineralization and conductivity) influence the choice of feeding, resting and breeding sites for many species of waterfowl. ...
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Influeix la salinitat en la diversitat i l’estructura dels ocells aquàtics hivernants als aiguamolls del Sàhara, a Algèria? Durant el període 2017-2019 es van registrar 42 espècies d’ocells aquàtics hivernants al complex d’aiguamolls de la vall d’Oued Righ, al Sàhara algerià. Les diferències de salinitat expliquen les variacions en la riquesa d’espècies i en la distribució dels ocells aquàtics als diversos aiguamolls estudiats. Els ambients oligohalins (0,5-5 ‰) i mesohalins (5-18 ‰), representats pel llac Aiata, el llac Sidi Khelil i l’Oued Kherouf, són els més favorables per als anàtids, excepte el gènere Tadorna, que és present als punts d’estudi euhalins (30-40 ‰) i hiperhalins (> 40 ‰). El flamenc rosat Phoenicopterus roseus i la gavina de bec prim Chroicocephalus genei es distingeixen per ser presents a les zones més holomorfes del complex com ara Chott Merouane. Dades publicades a GBIF (Doi: 10.15470/6fqd0h)
... There is however scant evidence on the effects of this agricultural shift on wildlife communities using vineyard plots, despite the large agricultural area covered by these (Eurostat, 2017) and the potential effects that changing crop structure or management could have on wildlife occurrence (Matson et al., 1997;Donald et al., 2002;Benton et al., 2003). The impact of modernization of traditional (gobelet shape) to trellis vineyards has been assessed on very few species, and has been shown to be detrimental for the great bustard (Otis tarda; Casas et al., 2020) and the woodlark (Lullula arborea; Arlettaz et al., 2012). ...
Article
The fast intensification of agriculture affects many systems. In recent decades, traditional vineyards have been rapidly converted to trellis vineyards in Spain (the country with the largest vineyard surface worldwide) in an attempt to reduce harvesting costs and increase vine productivity. The implications of this modernization of vineyards on farmland biodiversity are still largely unknown. We studied 52 vineyards (26 traditional and 26 trellis) from June to September in southwestern Spain, aiming to describe the effect of the modernization of goblet-shape traditional vineyards on vine structure and their management, as well as its effect on species' occurrence in vineyard plots. We applied hierarchical occurrence models to assess the occurrence probability of 10 bird species and two mammal species in traditional and trellis vineyard plots. Vineyard modernization involved taller vines (connected by metallic guide wires and poles by rows), greater distance between vine rows, bigger plot sizes, the systematic implementation of irrigation, and an application of fertilizers through the watering system (fertirrigation) in a third of studied vineyards. Other agrochemical treatments seemed to be equally used in both vineyard types. Due to the use of herbicides and frequent tilling, both types of vineyards showed low natural vegetation groundcover. Vineyard modernization had clear effects on fauna biodiversity in vineyard plots, with a higher occurrence in trellis vineyards of some species (rufous-tailed scrub-robin, European gold-finch, red-legged partridge, and house sparrow) and a higher occurrence of other species (European rabbit and European greenfinch) in traditional ones. Thus, vineyard modernization can drive a change in the community of birds and mammals that inhabit them. In addition, vineyard use by some species (particularly ground-dwelling ones) was strongly determined by the presence of arable land adjacent to the vineyard. These species may therefore use vineyards during summer because they provide water and/or better cover than harvested crops. Animals attracted to vineyards for water could be exposed to toxic doses of nitrates that are routinely applied through the watering system in a third of these. To maximize benefits for biodiversity, it would be advisable to manage modernization schemes in order to maintain landscape heterogeneity, with vineyards of both types combined with other agricultural systems, as well as higher proportions of natural vegetation surface cover.
... V manj kvalitetnih habitatih sta količina in dostopnost hrane manjši (Benton et al. 2002, Kragten et al. 2011, preživetje gnezd je slabše in smrtnost mladičev večja (Berg et al. 1992, Denac 2006, Kragten & De Snoo 2007, Schekkerman et al. 2009) kot v kvalitetnih habitatih, kar vodi v zmanjšanje velikosti populacij (Galbraith 1988a, Baines 1990, Bellebaum & Bock 2009, Smart et al. 2013. Ugotovljeno je bilo, da je upad populacij ptic kmetijske krajine v Evropi povezan z intenziviranjem kmetijstva, ki ga spodbuja tudi Skupna kmetijska politika (SKP) (Donald et al. 2002, Reif & Vermouzek 2019. Kljub številnim ukrepom za varstvo narave v kmetijski krajini, ki v okviru SKP potekajo v zadnjih desetletjih, je bila evropska kmetijska politika doslej neuspešna pri zaustavitvi upadanja biodiverzitete (Pe'er et al. 2014, Franks et al. 2018, Kaligarič et al. 2019, Šumrada et al. 2020. ...
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The Northern Lapwing numbers across Europe are declining owing to its insufficient breeding success. To determine the size, dynamics and habitat use of the lapwing population at Dravsko and Ptujsko polje, a survey was carried out between 2016 and 2018. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we recorded 148, 130, and 117 pairs, respectively. The population declined during the study and the population trend is uncertain. Approximately 12 to 21% of the national lapwing population was recorded at Dravsko and Ptujsko polje, making them one of the most important breeding areas in Slovenia. The majority of lapwings were found in bare tilled fields and fields with young spring crops that enable unbroken all-round views. Crop data analysis showed a significant preference for maize fields which are mostly bare tillage at the start of the incubation period and therefore act as an ecological trap for lapwings due to the time coincidence of the nesting period and farming operations. For the protection of the lapwing in Slovenia, we recommend a time limit of farming operations or avoiding individual nests while working in the field. Both measures are recommended to be implemented in combination with the provision of suitable foraging habitat for chicks. For greater effectiveness, we propose priority implementation of conser vation measures on traditiona l breeding sites.
... V celoevropském kontextu je zajímavý rozdíl mezi vývojem ve starých a nových členských státech EU. Ukazuje se, že populace polních ptáků jsou postiženy velmi intenzivním hospodařením ve starých členských zemích EU více, než dřívějším socialistickým zemědělstvím ve státech nových (Donald et al. 2002, PECBMS 2009). Lepší stav populací nových členských států oproti státům starým je také ovlivněn již zmíněným poklesem intenzity zemědělské výroby po roce 1990 (Gregory et al. 2005). ...
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Avifaunu ČR tvoří 406 druhů ptáků, z nichž polovina tu hnízdí. Ve srovnání se začátkem 80. let 20. století početnost asi třetiny druhů poklesla, u třetiny vzrostla a zbytek zůstává stabilní. Přibývají zejména druhy, které jsou předmětem mezinárodní ochrany nebo jejichž zákonná ochrana umožnila návrat zpět, druhy těžící z měnícího se stavu lesů či zvykající si na blízkost člověka. Nejrychleji naopak mizí ptáci zemědělské krajiny a některé druhy vázané na mokřadní biotopy. Intenzifikace zemědělství spolu s opouštěním půdy a zarůstáním krajiny v posledních letech vede k ústupu polních ptáků. K úbytku mokřadních ptáků přispívá zejména intenzivní rybníkářství. Naopak očekáváme pozitivní vliv vyhlášení ptačích oblastí soustavy Natura 2000, pokud však budou důsledně plněny podmínky ptačí směrnice EU. Mezi ně patří i vyhlášení zbylých dvou ptačích oblastí*. Význam ptáků pro lidi je vesměs kladný stejně jako vztah větši-ny veřejnosti k nim. Problémy přinášejí konflikty zájmů některých skupin a z toho plynoucí nerespektování zákonné ochrany ptáků. V nezákonném pronásledování ptáků patří mezi nej-nebezpečnější trávení. Problémy také přinášejí lidské stavby v energetice a dopravě či necitlivé rekonstrukce objektů. Ptáci jsou již také ovlivněni změnou klimatu, která představuje zásadní faktor ovlivňující stav ptactva v ČR v budoucnosti. Ochrana přírody selhává v případech úbyt-ku polních a mokřadních ptáků a není příliš účinná ani v druhové ochraně. Jedním z důvodů je nedostatečné využívání a podpora vědeckých poznatků včetně poznatků z dlouhodobého monitoringu. The Czech Republic's avifauna comprises 406 bird species, half of which are nesting species. Since the start of the 1980s the numbers of around a third of the species has declined, another third of species has increased their numbers, with the final third remaining stable. There has been an increase in the numbers of species that have been subject to international conservation efforts, or where their legal protection has facilitated their recovery. Also species benefitting
... SOS Busards, très active dans le réseau Busards national, est le référent régional pour la sauvegarde de ces deux espèces. Introduction Au cours de la seconde moitié du XX ème siècle, l'Europe sous l'impulsion de la Politique Agricole Commune, a modernisé son agriculture en l'intensifiant et en augmentant les surfaces agricoles afin d'assurer son autosuffisance alimentaire et diminuer la pauvreté (Donald et al., 2002 ;Doussan and Dubois, 2007). Mais cette modernisation ne s'est pas faite sans dommages, notamment pour la biodiversité qui a vu le nombre d'espèces menacées augmenter (Scharlemann et al., 2005) et les communautés liées au milieu agricole chuter (Firbank et al., 2008 ;Stoate et al., 2001). ...
Thesis
La modernisation de l’agriculture a entraîné chez le Busard cendré un changement d’habitat : seulement 25 à 30 % niche encore en landes sèches en Aveyron. Or ces milieux sont plus favorables à la reproduction que les prairies de fauche, désormais son milieu de nidification principal. Il est donc vital de comprendre ce qui détermine le choix du site de nidification en milieux semi-naturels afin de préserver ces sites. Pour cela, nous avons comparé des sites de nidification à des sites témoins selon plusieurs paramètres à l’échelle du site et du paysage. De même, nous avons comparé l’emplacement exact du nid à l’ensemble du site de nidification. Nous avons montré que l’emplacement du nid est plutôt situé dans une zone à fort recouvrement d’espèces épineuses avec une hauteur de végétation proche du mètre. Le site de nidification choisi, lui, présente un degré de fermeture intermédiaire ainsi qu’une forte densité de la strate buissonnante. De même, une grande superficie semble nécessaire à l’installation d’une micro-colonie. Enfin à l’échelle du paysage, les prairies humides, pelouses et pâturages naturels ont un effet négatif sur la probabilité de nidification. De plus, le paysage des sites de nidification semble moins hétérogène et fragmenté que pour les sites témoins. En outre, on observe un effet positif de la distance à la structure anthropique la plus proche. Ces résultats pourraient permettre la mise en place des méthodes de gestion appropriées afin de conserver les sites de nidification et de restaurer des sites moins favorables.
... Similar CAP policy programs have had similar beneficial effects for wildlife in Europe [67]. In African nations, laws expanding and protecting traditional grazing and nomadic lifestyles of tribal peoples, such as the Masai, have been used to enhance connectivity [180,181]. Additionally, the government of Australia makes an effort to preserve the Stock Route Network, historic cattle-droving routes, that connects a network of protected areas in New South Wales and Queensland [179]. The creation of other similar programs in other nations should be encouraged and supported [182]. ...
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Ecological corridors are one of the best, and possibly only viable, management tools to maintain biodiversity at large scales and to allow species, and ecological processes, to track climate change. This document has been assembled as a summary of the best available information about managing these systems. Our aim with this paper is to provide managers with a convenient guidance document and tool to assist in applying scientific management principles to management of corridors. We do not cover issues related to corridor design or political buy in, but focus on how a corridor should be managed once it has been established. The first part of our paper outlines the history and value of ecological corridors. We next describe our methodologies for developing this guidance document. We then summarize the information about the impacts of linear features on corridors and strategies for dealing with them—specifically, we focus on the effects of roads; canals; security fences; and transmission lines. Following the description of effects, we provide a summary of the best practices for managing the impacts of linear barriers. Globally, many corridors are established in the flood plains of stream and rivers and occur in riparian areas associated with surface waters. Therefore, we next provide guidance on how to manage corridors that occur in riparian areas. We then Segway into corridors and the urban/suburban environment, and summarize strategies for dealing with urban development within corridors. The final major anthropic land use that may affect corridor management is cultivation and grazing agriculture. We end this review be identifying gaps in knowledge pertaining to how best to manage corridors.
... Furthermore, European farmland bird populations decreased by 55 % in the period 1980-2015 (EBCC, 2019), while their biomass more than halved in the period 1980-2007(Voříšek et al., 2010. Agriculture in the EU is substantially subsidized, mostly to the detriment of biodiversity (Donald, Pisano, Rayment, & Pain, 2002;EEA, 2009;Slabe-Erker, Ogorevc, Kmecl, & Ciglič, 2019), including subsidies for land consolidation. On the other hand, agricultural funds in the form of agri-environmental measures can have a positive or neutral effect on farmland birds (Batáry, Dicks, Kleijn, & Sutherland, 2015;Kleijn et al., 2006). ...
Article
Please read or download from Elsevier's link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cD4a5liTFDfpf Land consolidation can negatively affect biodiversity, as it is usually followed by the expansion of arable land, a decrease in crop and land cover diversity, and an increase in the application of agrochemicals. The aim of our study was to compare the species’ composition and abundance of farmland birds, as well as habitat structure, on consolidated and non-consolidated sites in Goriˇcko, NE Slovenia. Habitat diversity was much lower on consolidated sites compared to non-consolidated ones, with arable fields and associated habitats (e.g. grass field margins, field tracks) prevailing on the former. Non-consolidated sites held higher proportions of different types of meadows, hedgerows, solitary trees, succession and traditional orchards. Farmland bird diversity and the abundance of a majority of farmland bird species were higher on non-consolidated sites. The only two exceptions to this were the Eurasian Skylark and the Common Stonechat, which were more abundant on consolidated sites. Both of the species suffered population declines at Goriˇcko in the period 1997–2016, bringing into question the suitability of intensively managed arable fields as their breeding and foraging habitat. Individual species’ regression analysis revealed that the most influential positive explanatory variable for the presence of Red-backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow and Common Whitethroat was non-consolidated, extensively managed mosaic landscape, whereas for the Yellowhammer this explanatory variable was superseded only by forest islands without traditional orchards. Land consolidation, as performed in Slovenia, negatively affects farmland bird diversity and its European conservation value, which is why it should not be performed on Natura 2000 sites, designated for nature conservation.
... For example, the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) initially helped to corner traditional uses by supporting productivity and penalizing extensification (Donald et al. 2002). Later, agri-environmental measures emerged partly as instruments to reduce the abandonment of low-intensity traditional farming practices, but agri-environmental subsidies were often not as attractive to farmers as payments incentivizing intensification (MacDonald et al. 2000). ...
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Policies have the potential to affect human–wildlife coexistence. However, despite consequences being evident beforehand or emerging soon after their implementation, potential conflicts between policies and biodiversity conservation are not always easy to predict. Wolves feeding on anthropogenic food sources (AFS) usually fall into conflict with humans, mainly due to predation on livestock. But the availability of AFS can be influenced by different policies leading to diet shifts, which could trigger new conflicts or exacerbate existing ones. Here, we show a long-term shift in the diet of wolves in northwestern Iberia over the last three decades and discuss its potential connection to changes in sanitary, environmental, and socioeconomic policies. Wolves persisted for a long time due to the activity of humans with AFS accounting for >94 % of their diet. Our results suggest a connection between a diet shift in wolves and changes in policies, from a broad diet including more feedlot (pigs, chickens) and medium-sized (goats and dogs) species, mainly in the form of carrion, to a more narrow diet based primarily on large domestic ungulates (cattle and horses). We discuss the potential implications of the observed shift in the diet of wolves on human–wolf conflicts. We also call attention on the pressing need to integrate policies into biodiversity conservation to anticipate future conservation and management dilemmas.
... Farmland bird species represent a large proportion of European avifauna, and the populations of several species have suffered a dramatic decline in recent decades, especially in Western Europe (Donald et al. 2001(Donald et al. , 2002. The causes of this decline have been identified mostly in the changes of agricultural practices, such as heavy mechanization, increased fertilizer inputs, and a temporal shift in cereal sowing from spring to autumn. ...
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Farmland birds represent a large proportion of European avifauna, and the populations of several species have suffered a dramatic decline in recent decades. Among these species, the European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur has undergone rapid decline in much of its European range. Therefore, the main aims of this research are to estimate the population density of the Turtle Dove and to investigate its habitat use at home range scale in an intensively cultivated agroeco-system in northern Italy. In the 2015 breeding season we carried out turtle dove counts from 372 point-counts, randomly allocated following a stratified cluster sampling design. The density was estimated by distance sampling, whereas the habitat suitability was assessed by Resource Selection Probability Function. In particular, we followed a presence vs availability approach, using binary logistic regression and the Information-Theoretic approach. During fieldwork, 76 observations of Turtle Dove were collected and a density of 5.0 pairs/km 2 was estimated. The Turtle Dove inhabits areas with high tree cover, either semi-natural forests or tree plantations, as well as areas with many shrubs and hedgerows. On the other hand, areas with a high proportion of crops, such as paddyfields, maize, and winter cereals are avoided. For the species' conservation, it is necessary to maintain a combination of habitat features with suitable nesting and feeding areas, as the degradation of either of these may reduce Turtle Dove populations.
... According to IUCN Red List assessments, agriculture was identified as the most frequent threat for the breeding birds in Greece, both for all species and for species with declining trends. Population declines of farmland birds have become a major conservation concern throughout Europe (Tucker andHeath 1994, Gregory et al. 2004) and have been driven by land-use changes and agricultural intensification as enforced by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (Donald et al. 2002, Busch et al. 2020. The severity of farmland bird declines is further reflected by a > 50% reduction of the EU farmland bird indicators since 1980 (Gregory et al. 2005, EBCC 2017. ...
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Birds are suffering from steep population declines on a global scale and they are one of the few taxonomic groups for which these declines are well documented by long-term monitoring data. This study provides a synthesis of the status of the breeding birds of Greece. To this aim, we retrieved population size estimates from six sources spanning 22 years (1992-2014) and calculated species’ trends in Greece. Using the IUCN Red List assessments for each species we assessed whether ecological traits including habitat and diet preferences are associated with species’ trends and conservation status in Europe and determined major threats affecting birds in Greece. Moreover, we assessed the importance of Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in terms of declining trigger species. Results showed that almost one fifth of the breeding birds in Greece have declining populations. Raptors were found to be the most threatened group of birds whereas the highest declines by dietary group were observed in scavengers, with 60% of species showing a decreasing trend. The most common threats were the ones that cause habitat alteration and degradation as well as more direct effects such as poisoning. Our results suggest that habitat and ecosystem functions restoration along with the management of protected areas and improvement of legislation should be the main conservation actions undertaken and pinpointed the IBAs where they should be prioritized for implementation. Finally, further research especially on specific drivers of population change along with further examination of current and past population trends will increase the power and accuracy of future regional Red List Assessments especially concerning the breeding species for which the country bears the greatest responsibility.
... However, they are often subjected to changes in management, such as conversion to other land uses, agriculture intensification or abandonment 3 . Intensification of management is usually associated to an increase in the use of agrochemicals or in livestock density 8,9 . Often, these changes are supported by targeted policies. ...
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European grassland birds are experiencing major population declines, mainly due to changes in farmland management. We analyzed the role of habitat availability, grazing management and linear infrastructures (roads and power lines) in explaining spatial and temporal variation in the population density of little bustards (Tetrax tetrax) in Portugal, during a decade in which the species population size halved. We used data from 51 areas (totaling ca. 1,50,000 ha) that were sampled in two different periods (2003-2006 and 2016). In 2003-2006, when the species occurred at high densities, habitat availability was the only factor affecting spatial variation in bustard density. In the 2016 survey, variation in density was explained by habitat availability and livestock management, with reduced bird numbers in areas with higher proportions of cattle. Population declines across the study period were steeper in areas that initially held higher densities of bustards and in areas with a higher proportion of cattle in the total stocking rate. Areas with higher densities of power lines also registered greater density declines, probably due to avoidance behavior and to increased mortality. Overall, our results show little bustards are currently lacking high quality grassland habitat, whose persistence depends on extensive grazing regimes and low linear infrastructure densities.
... Interesting fact is that after the collapse of Communism and further reforms in agriculture in the Eastern Bloc Communist countries, bird populations have declined far less than in Western Europe. One of the reasons was extensification of grapes cultivation and abandonment of vineyards in Eastern Europe (Donald et al., 2002). More recent, post-RESUMEN: En Eslovaquia, el cultivo del viñedo se remonta a la época romana. ...
Article
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En Eslovaquia, el cultivo del viñedo se remonta a la época romana. Los entornos naturales limitan la distribución de los viñedos en zonas con orientación sur, principalmente en las tierras bajas y las estribaciones de los Cárpatos. Basándonos en un análisis DAFO, seleccionamos tres zonas de estudio en los que se evaluó la urbanización, restauración y abandono de viñedos en terrazas. Estas transformaciones suelen cambiar el carácter de los paisajes vitivinícolas en toda Europa. Los datos cuantitativos sobre viñedos a nivel nacional se adoptaron de la base de datos estadística nacional DATACube (1996-2018). Se accedió a los datos geográficos y a las estadísticas geográficas desde los servicios de mapas web del Consorcio Geoespacial nacional utilizando el Sistema de Información Geográfica QGIS. Se calcularon las estadísticas básicas para las diferentes áreas utilizando la información de los viñedos históricos (1952-1957), los viñedos actuales identificados en la base de datos de ZBGIS (2019) y las parcelas de viñedos registradas en el Catastro Real del Estado (2019). Los resultados demuestran que, en general, el área de viñedo disminuyó a nivel nacional. En una de las zonas de estudio se observó una disminución de los viñedos debido a los procesos de urbanización y de abandono de campos de cultivo, pero el viñedo permaneció en parcelas de pequeño tamaño, que aparecen como parcelas características de un paisaje vitícola tradicional con un gran potencial para el desarrollo de agroturismo. En las otras dos zonas de estudio, el área de viñedos aumentó: pequeñas parcelas vitivinícolas se fusionaron en parcelas medianas y se construyeron nuevas terrazas más modernas. Sin embargo, después de la concentración parcelaria, estas terrazas no aparecen registradas en el Catastro Real del Estado. No obstante, estos viñedos en terrazas bien mantenidos, ayudan a conservar el suelo y evitan los procesos de erosión.
... Belgium is representative of the lowland agricultural landscapes of western Europe, deeply modified by increasing agricultural intensification and urbanization during the last century [46,47]. The targeted area is the continental bioclimatic region of Belgium [48], where we had homogeneous distribution of bee occurrence data (S1 Fig in S1 Appendix). ...
Article
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We are currently facing a large decline in bee populations worldwide. Who are the winners and losers? Generalist bee species, notably those able to shift their diet to new or alternative floral resources, are expected to be among the least vulnerable to environmental change. However, studies of interactions between bees and plants over large temporal and geographical scales are limited by a lack of historical records. Here, we used a unique opportunistic century-old countrywide database of bee specimens collected on plants to track changes in the plant-bee interaction network over time. In each historical period considered, and using a network-based modularity analysis, we identified some major groups of species interacting more with each other than with other species (i.e. modules). These modules were related to coherent functional groups thanks to an a posteriory trait-based analysis. We then compared over time the ecological specialization of bees in the network by computing their degree of interaction within and between modules. “True” specialist species (or peripheral species) are involved in few interactions both inside and between modules. We found a global loss of specialist species and specialist strategies. This means that bee species observed in each period tended to use more diverse floral resources from different ecological groups over time, highly specialist species tending to enter/leave the network. Considering the role and functional traits of species in the network, combined with a long-term time series, provides a new perspective for the study of species specialization.
... Agricultural intensification was based on eradication of the intermediate situation such as hedgerows, single-trees and stone houses in agricultural lands, introducing new agricultural methods such as using fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides, and expanded cultivation of a single product in the lands [22,23]. Agricultural intensification was found to be correlated with population reduction of other bird species especially those avian species depending on agricultural lands [22,[24][25][26]. ...
Article
Ecological studies have been focused on large, rare or endangered species but species which are adapted to traditional agroecosystems or rural environments received less attention. For example, Little owl is a typical inhabitant of agricultural lands and its population had greatly reduced due to the mechanized agriculture. In this paper, we built the first country level habitat suitability map for the little owl and identified the most influential environmental predictor of its distribution in Iran. We used species presence data (177 distribution points) and eight uncorrelated environmental variables to model the species suitable habitats using the maximum entropy approach (Maxent). Results showed that suitable habitats for this species are located in the northwest, parts of north east and southwest of Iran. Distance to forests, distance to human settlements and distance to agricultural lands are the most important determinants of the little owl distribution in Iran. Human migrations from rural areas to the cities and availability of many vacant human settlements surrounded by traditional and semi-modern agricultural landscapes produce suitable habitats for little owl in Iran.
... Currently, habitat loss caused by land-use change is one of the main threats to biodiversity. Two opposite phenomena mainly characterize changes in land-use: the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral activities and the over-exploitation of both arable land and pasture, which in Europe is also caused by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP: Donald, Pisano, Rayment, & Pain, 2002;Pe'er et al., 2014). Land abandonment and changes in pastoral practices usually are more common in mountain environments, where areas are difficult to access or are left aside when less profitable; however, easily accessible areas in lowlands are mostly characterised by over-exploitation (Gibon, Mottet, Ladet, & Coque, 2006;MacDonald et al., 2000). ...
Article
Land-use changes, both in terms of land abandonment and intensification, have led to fragmentation and loss of traditional agricultural habitats. Extensive grazing is among the forms of land use that have undergone the greatest changes. This represents one of the main threats to biodiversity; consequently, a comprehensive overview about the impacts on the biodiversity of changes that are happening in pastoral activities is needed. Moreover, a clear picture of the most widely studied geographical areas, habitats, and taxonomic groups needs to be developed in order to understand the situation. In this framework, we carried out a systematic review and a meta-analysis of the publications related to the impacts of pastoral activities on animal biodiversity in Europe. We analysed 223 articles by searching the ISI Web of Science platform and combining keywords related to "pastoral activities" and "biodiversity indicators”, applying a vote count approach, i.e. simply dividing articles into categories depending on their results (non-significant ones, significant positive results, significant negative ones). Moreover, we conducted a meta-analysis on 33 articles, selecting those focusing on Arthropods (the most studied taxa). To understand the main gaps in this scientific topic, we focused on: i) the identification of the geographical, environmental, and temporal structure of the studies; ii) the description of the main target groups used as bio-indicators; iii) the comparison of different management practices (overgrazing, traditional, agri-environment schemes - AESs), plus land abandonment, to determine which is the best for biodiversity conservation and to evaluate the effectiveness of AESs. There was a bias towards lowlands in comparison to uplands, as well as a lack of long-term studies. Plants were more sensitive than animals to grazing changes. Arthropods’ orders are the taxa used most frequently as indicators, in comparison with vertebrates, especially birds. We identified a generalised negative impact of overgrazing in all the habitats and geographical areas, apparently except in mountainous shrubland. Conversely, land abandonment resulted in a negative influence on biodiversity only in the mountainous areas of southern Europe (underlining the important role of traditional activities), whereas short term abandonment had a beneficial role in central Europe, where overgrazing was more widespread. The meta-analysis suggested that arthropod richness was higher in short to mid-term abandoned pastures than under either extensive or intensive grazing systems. Finally, the effectiveness of AESs for conservation purposes was not confirmed by the vote count approach, whilst meta-analysis detected a positive effect for Arthropods of these same management practices when compared to overgrazing. We highlight a lack of data on AESs, especially when compared with traditional extensive grazing or abandonment. Our findings suggest that AES seems to effectively mimic traditional pastures, contrasting overgrazing, which is one of its main goal. Since AES have a strong potential in influencing sustainable management and promoting biodiversity conservation, the European Union should focus on the most effective and well targeted AES based on research, and further studies will be necessary to continuously assess their effect.
... The influence of development status represented by this interaction with precipitation, though weak, may suggest that the luxury effect is more associated with rich countries because a certain level of wealth needs to be attained before negative impacts of urbanization can be ameliorated, whereas this threshold may not be reached in poorer countries. This has parallels with the concept of the environmental Kuznets' curve, where the damaging consequences of economic growth on the environment (e.g., Donald, Pisano, Rayment, & Pain, 2002) can only be ameliorated when a certain level of wealth is reached (Stern, 2004), although the evidence for such an effect is equivocal (e.g., Czech, 2008). Nevertheless, increased urbanization may actually have several potential societal benefits, which may lead to wider biodiversity benefits (Sanderson, Walston, & Robinson, 2018), as long as urban planning and management is driven by ideas of sustainability and social equity. ...
Article
Urban biodiversity, and its associated ecosystem services, is an important component of the quality of life of urban residents. The "luxury effect" posits a positive association between biodiversity and socioeconomic status in urban areas, and is thus reflective of environmental injustice, as the benefits associated with biodiversity are not equitably shared across society. We aimed to determine the generality of the luxury effect, and to identify the factors causing its variation across published studies. Urbanized landscapes globally. Current. Terrestrial animals and plants. We tested the luxury effect across a sample of 337 estimates of the relationship between biodiversity measures and socioeconomic status from 96 studies via a meta‐analysis, addressing three hypotheses: (a) the luxury effect is more pronounced where water availability is limited, (b) the luxury effect is more pronounced in developing than developed countries, (c) the luxury effect is stronger in exotic compared to native species. There was a significant overall luxury effect: there was a positive association between terrestrial biodiversity measures and socioeconomic status. The strength of the luxury effect was greater in arid areas. There was limited support for a stronger luxury effect in exotic species, but no support for any association with development status. Many key and emerging climate impacts are concentrated in urban areas. Therefore, the degree of environmental injustice represented by the luxury effect may be amplified in the future, especially in arid regions. The objective to increase urban biodiversity through more equitable management and provision of water resources could form part of a wider strategy for sustainable development of cities to promote environmental justice, enhancing the quality of life of urban residents across all sectors of society. Challenges remain to ensure that any such strategy prioritizes conservation goals for native biodiversity.
... Farmland birds species have been particularly affected (Donald et al., 2001), especially in areas where mechanization, intensification and land consolidation triggered habitat degradation and/or loss (Vickery et al., 2001). However, in the specific context of grasslands, agricultural activities such as extensive grazing and occasional mowing are essential for the maintenance of suitable bird habitat (Donald et al., 2002;Sabatier et al., 2014). In such cases both management intensification and abandoning management (desertification) can lead to biodiversity loss (Simons et al., 2017). ...
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The conciliation between different issues such as agriculture production, biodiversity conservation and water management remains unsolved in many places in the world. As a striking example, the wet grasslands of the Marais Poitevin region (France) presents many obstacles against the integration of these issues, especially in terms of public policy design. The socio-cultural situation in this region shows a high degree of political resistance and questions the relevancy of the current Agri-Environmental Schemes (AES) as an incentive for livestock farmers to adopt biodiversity friendly practices favoring the birds’ richness of the area. In this study, we explored the reasons for the poor effect of public policy using a two-fold approach based on ethnographic fieldwork and a role-playing game experiment. The ethnographic fieldwork aimed at understanding the local context and daily lives of farmers and current AES’s difficulties while the observation of the role-playing game session allowed for the exploration of current and alternative policy scenarios. The game represents an archetypal wetland that simulates the grass regeneration, water flows through a canal system and a surrounding network of cultivated plots (wheat, corn, sunflower, alfalfa) and pasture areas. The game is designed for eight players who embody their role in real life, i.e. water managers, biodiversity managers and farmers. The behaviors of the players during the session were observed and analyzed through semantic analysis. The game was structured around two scenarios to allow participants to explore, test and compare the current individual action-oriented AES with alternative collective public policy instruments. Such comparison brings new insights for public policy design. It also highlights the topic of integrated environmental management and questions the relevancy of participatory approaches in striving to resolve contradiction/dilemmas in environmental development.
... As a group, birds serve as an excellent indicator of non-avian farmland biodiversity for a variety of reasons (Burel et al., 1998;Devictor and Jiguet, 2007;Donald et al., 2002;Gaston and Fuller, 2007;Gregory et al., 2005;Lemoine et al., 2007;Sauberer et al., 2004). First, there is a broader and richer knowledge base about their ecology than any other taxa. ...
Article
Although farmland birds are used extensively in Europe as an indicator group to assess agricultural impacts on ecosystems, no such group has been formally identified in North America. Here we present a hierarchical framework to identify a suite of farmland bird species in Ontario, Canada by consolidating and validating classifications derived from literature review and empirical modelling. First, we reviewed literature to compile candidate farmland bird species in Ontario and assigned species to four guilds (row crop specialists, pasture specialists, farmstead specialists, and farmland edge generalists). Second, we used regression trees (RTs) to test whether these species could be classified into the same literature-based guilds or different guilds, based on modelled relationships between breeding bird atlas abundance data and Census of Agriculture statistics. We consolidated both classifications using a decision tree into a final list of 45 farmland bird species, comprising 11 farmstead specialists, 13 pasture specialists, 5 row crop specialists, 12 farmland edge generalists, and 4 farmland generalists flagged for classification uncertainty. To validate the distinctness of the assigned farmland bird guilds, we used pairwise permANOVA to test for differences in species composition among guilds, based on 34 species with sufficient occurrence data. We found significant compositional differences between almost all guilds, except for the farmstead specialist and row crop specialist guilds which could not be differentiated. We also validated species’ guild assignments using canonical analysis of principal coordinates (CAP) to group 35 species according to ecological resemblance which were then compared to our proposed guild classifications. CAP validated guild assignments for 78.2% of the evaluated farmland specialists, particularly for farmstead specialists and pasture specialists, while 50% of evaluated farmland edge generalists were grouped differently than our final classification. Each final classification was associated with low, moderate, or high uncertainty according to concordance between classification methods and support from CAP groupings to highlight species with uncertainly assigned guilds. For some such species, mismatches between their literature-based and empirically-derived classifications might be due to the predictor variables being measured at too large a scale to reflect associations between their abundance distributions and agricultural landscape characteristics. We recommend that these farmland bird species be further verified using statistical models of bird count data, satellite imagery, and climate variables, and a trait-based approach to bolster confidence in the proposed list. When confirmed and expanded, this list can be used to inform a farmland bird indicator to monitor agroecosystem health in Ontario, and perhaps elsewhere in eastern North America.
... In recent decades there have been widespread declines in both ranges and abundances of several bird species across Europe (Gregory et al., 2007;Inger et al., 2015;Siriwardena et al., 1998). Many drivers e all some form of anthropogenic environmental changes e have been identified as leading to these population declines, including: (1) density of houses and human settlements (Tratalos et al., 2007), (2) decline of insects for insectivorous birds (Bowler et al., 2019), (3) direct or indirect effects of farming practices in agroecosystems, as for example agricultural intensification or use of pesticides (Donald et al., 2002(Donald et al., , 2001Sanderson et al., 2013;Vickery et al., 2004), or (4) habitat fragmentation and reduction of suitable environments for bird species (Andr en, 1994;Carrete et al., 2009;Reino et al., 2013). Because we have detailed knowledge on the threats to birds, the population declines of birds (Stephens et al., 2016), and detailed understanding of ecological life history requirements for many species (Morelli et al., 2019), birds represent an excellent taxon to test the empirical relationship between species' specialization and extinction risk. ...
Article
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Successful conservation strategies depend on the correct identification of animal species and populations at a higher risk of extinction. But not all species are equally sensitive to environmental changes. Specialist species are often considered more prone to extinction than generalist species. However, even considering the importance of the link between specialization and population trends of species (a potential proxy for extinction risk), only a few studies have provided evidence supporting this relationship. Here, we tested whether the population trend of breeding birds in Europe is linked to a specific category of species' specialization, using continuous measures of avian specialization based on a trait-approach. We focused on five different indices of avian specialization: diet, foraging behavior, foraging substrate, habitat selection, and nesting site selection. We calculated the mean value and the standard deviation of the population trend for 139 bird species. Then, we tested for the presence of a phylogenetic signal in bird population trends, in order to investigate if the tendency for related species to resemble each other, often demonstrated regarding phenotypes, is present also for the species’ trends in Europe. We found evidence that bird species with negative trends were characterized by higher ecological specialization than species with positive trends. Specifically, population trends were negatively associated with nesting site specialization. We highlight that the species' degree of specialization can be used as a proxy for that species’ ability to adapt and persist to anthropogenic environmental changes. Finally, the lack of a phylogenetic signal in either the mean value or standard deviation of the bird population trend suggests that the current status of a species is not strongly associated with the degree of phylogenetic relatedness.
... As detailed above, policies acting at large spatial scales, like the CAP of the EU, additionally influence bird populations (e.g. Donald et al. 2002, Pe'er et al. 2014, Gamero et al. 2017, Reif and Vermouzek 2018. Therefore, the analysis of drivers of population change requires the integration of regionally varying sectoral factors and overarching, large-scale pressures. ...
Article
------- READ FULL-TEXT ONLINE: https://bit.ly/36u4Hsb ------- Farmland bird populations in Germany are declining at a higher speed than species inhabiting other habitats. We studied potential causes for bird population changes based on data from standardised German breeding bird monitoring schemes. We related population trends to covariates describing the changes in the agricultural landscape in Germany, weather conditions during the breeding season and for some migratory species, conditions at stopover and wintering sites. Linear mixed effect models were used to analyse effect strength at species level and conclusions are drawn for the overall group of farmland bird species. The area of grassland and fallow land was shown to have the strongest positive effects and the area of maize and rapeseed the strongest negative effects on farmland bird population trends. The results obtained also indicate that despite the consistent influence of weather conditions during the breeding season, land-use changes had a stronger impact on bird populations than weather. Conditions at Sahel wintering sites did not show a consistent effect on population trends. Based on these findings the study quantitatively underpins and ranks key factors shaping farmland bird populations in Germany.
... Farming systems in Duhallow, as in much of the island of Ireland, have evolved over time from primarily small-scale, low intensity agriculture based on extensive, low input livestock farming to a mix of traditional family farms on both marginal and intensive, high input farms. This change in farming practice, especially in recent decades, has had impacts on biodiversity resulting in changes in both the diversity of species and the conservation status of species (Donald et al. 2002, Power et al. 2013. Some species which benefitted from traditional farming systems in the past (eg., corncrake) have disappeared completely from Duhallow within a generation and have become almost extinct within Ireland. ...
Book
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This book started as a series of interviews with farmers in Duhallow. This largely upland region in the heart of Sliabh Luachra is an area of rich musical and cultural heritage on the border of counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick, in southwest Ireland. These interviews sought to hear the voice of those farming the land, especially regarding the effects of EU designation, but also the huge changes to the landscape, from afforestation to windfarms, and pressures such as intensification and farm succession. Change and loss in the farming community mirror some of the changes and losses in it's rich wildlife. These are the themes explored in this book.
... In parallel, residual grasslands underwent a strong management intensification in most regions (Humbert, Dwyer, Andrey, & Arlettaz, 2016). Abandonment and intensification have increased due to the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP; Donald et al., 2002), and both have had major negative impacts on grassland biodiversity (Monteiro, Fava, Hiltbrunner, Della Marianna, & Bocchi, 2011;Vickery et al., 2001). Recent CAP environmental prescriptions (i.e. ...
Article
In recent decades, upland hay-meadows underwent large transformations due to the modernization of livestock husbandry system. Such changes impacted on biodiversity, but their consequences on the upper levels of the food web (e.g. birds) are largely unknown. Grassland specialists could respond differently to landscape structure and management practices, and such potentially different responses should be integrated into conservation and management strategies. To elucidate the effect of meadow characteristics on avian grassland specialists, we considered three declining bird species regularly found in European meadowlands. We compared their mean densities at 63 landscape plots in the Italian Alps with that reported from other studies and analysed their environmental preferences in relation to landscape (composition and structural elements), management (meadow fertilization and mowing calendar), topographic (slope and elevation), and spatial predictors. Shedding light on their ecological requirements, we identify possible causes of long-term decline as well as conservation strategies for grassland specialists. Mean territory density of ground-nesting species (whinchat, 0.75 territory/10 ha, and tree pipit, 0.42) resulted lower than most other estimates obtained in the Alps; conversely, the density of the shrub-nesting red-backed shrike (1.97) was comparable to that of many other Alpine areas. Meadow conversion into other crops and the modern livestock husbandry (i.e. first mowing performed before the end of the third week of June, made possible by meadow overfertilization) have likely contributed to regional depletion of whinchat and tree pipit populations, especially below 900-1000 m asl. Heterogeneous landscapes dominated by grassland, with large extents of unimproved meadows, close to meadows interspersed with isolated trees, hedgerows and ecotones, could accommodate the ecological preferences of multiple grassland specialists. As such landscapes have become increasingly rarer, the remaining ones must be preserved via integrated plans for sustainable mountain development.
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Odłogowanie i zmiany w użytkowaniu gruntów rolnych na ogół związane są z brakiem opłacalności produkcji rolniczej, urbanizacją obszarów wiejskich lub z utratą wartości produkcyjnej gleby. Program odłogowania części gruntów uprawnych (Set-Aside Land Option), wprowadzony w krajach Unii Europejskiej pod koniec lat 80. w ramach Wspólnej Polityki Rolnej (Common Agricultural Policy – CAP), wynikał z nadwyŜek produkcji rolniczej. Jego głównym celem było wyrównanie cen na światowym rynku Ŝywności. W Polsce odłogowanie gruntów związane jest głównie ze spadkiem opłacalności produkcji. Pod koniec lat 90. powierzchnia gruntów rolnych wyłączonych z produkcji wynosiła ponad 2 mln ha. W pracy przedstawiono główne zagadnienia badawcze dotyczące tej problematyki. Wyniki badań przeprowadzonych w ostatnich latach na terenie Europy Zachodniej i Stanów Zjednoczonych potwierdzają pozytywne oddziaływanie odłogowania pól uprawnych na środowisko glebowe, wody powierzchniowe, bogactwo gatunkowe roślin i zwierząt oraz procesy fizyko-chemiczne zachodzące w obrębie agroekosystemów.
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Aim of study: To assess the economic viability of implementing carbon fertilisation (CF) on the Campo de Dalías greenhouse agricultural sector. Area of study: Agricultural area of Campo de Dalías (Southeast of Spain), the highest density of greenhouses for horticulture in Europe, with an area of 21,285 ha of greenhouses, spread over an entire area of 33,000 ha. Material and methods: Based on the technology currently used in the Campo de Dalías, we estimated the impact of introducing technology that could incorporate CF (multi-span greenhouses) and that of CF itself. The main indicators analysed were value added, employment, gross output, and input use, and especially water consumption. Main results: The results show an improvement in the most important indicators analysed, making CF an economically viable technique that will help the development process of the agricultural sector in Campo de Dalías. Research highlights: Campo de Dalias production competes in Central European markets with others coming from areas with lower costs (North Africa) or those with higher technical standards (mainly the Netherlands). Species traditionally grown in the Campo de Dalías greenhouses have disappeared due to their low profitability. Technological innovation is the only way out to prevent this important sector from continuing losing value.
Chapter
This chapter briefly describes agriculture technologies, including a brief historical overview, and explains major drivers that shape modern agriculture. It introduces major crops and domestic animals and explains why and how we domesticate them. Finally, this chapter deals with major ways by which agricultural intensification in plant production and animal husbandry is reached and explores the impact those approaches have on various component of ecosystem including biodiversity, nutrient cycling energy flows soils, water, etc. Special attention is paid to interaction of agriculture and ongoing global change.
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The topsoil seed bank was studied in four types of agricultural bird habitats: fields with cereals, maize, clover and tilled fields of a Mediterranean plain to determine the potentially richest habitat based on food supply for the wintering farmland birds. The diversity and abundance of topsoil seeds differed between seasons but did not differ significantly between habitats. The cereal habitat was the richest in food supply for the overwintering of farmland birds. The topsoil seed bank was dominated by Chenopodium album, Polygonum aviculare and Amaranthus retroflexus. The findings of this study provide insight for low-intensity management of higher-elevation mount agricultural areas of southern Mediterranean by preserving seed-rich habitats for farmland avifauna.
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Wading birds can be found breeding in a myriad of habitats and ecosystems across Europe that vary widely in their land-use intensity. Over the past few decades, wader breeding populations have declined steeply in habitats ranging from natural undisturbed ecosystems to intensively managed farmland. Most conservation science has focused on factors determining local population size and trends which leave cross-continental patterns and the associated consequences for large-scale conservation strategies unexplored. Here, we review the key factors underlying population decline. We find land-use intensification in western Europe and mostly agricultural extensification and abandonment in northern, central and eastern Europe to be important drivers. Additionally, predation seems to have increased throughout the breeding range and across all habitats. Using collected breeding density data from published and grey literature, we explore habitat specificity of wader species and, of the most widely distributed species, how breeding densities change across a land-use intensity gradient. We found that two-thirds of all examined wader species have relatively narrow breeding habitat preferences, mostly in natural and undisturbed ecosystems, while the remaining species occurred in most or all habitats. The most widespread generalist species (black-tailed godwit, northern lapwing, common redshank, Eurasian oystercatcher, common snipe and ruff) demonstrated peak breeding densities at different positions along the land-use intensity gradient. To conserve both diverse wader communities and viable meta-populations of species, a diversity of habitats should be targeted ranging in land-use intensity from natural ecosystems to medium intensity farmland. Alongside, strategies should be designed to moderate predation of wader clutches and chicks.
Article
Balancing conservation and development with ecosystem services is a popular topic for the sustainable development of agricultural land today. This study establishes an evaluation framework to explore the heterogeneous preferences of tourists and residents for the ecosystem functions of agricultural land in Kinmen, Taiwan. The results showed that respondents preferred to transform the current farming type into sustainable agriculture, increase species habitats, plan wheat and sorghum landscape areas, and combine ecotourism with local cultural activities. Tourists had a higher marginal willingness to pay for farmland conservation than residents. People who supported the conservation program of agricultural land in sorghum and wheat production areas tended to 1) be female, 2) be tourists, 3) have higher education, and 4) have higher monthly income. The results suggest that policymakers must improve ecosystem functions with agricultural ecosystem function support funds, consistent with the guaranteed-price purchase policy in the Kinmen sorghum and wheat areas, for sustainable development.
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Between 1992 and 1993 over 600 000 ha of arable farmland in the UK were set aside under a production control mechanism of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union. One of the management options for this set-aside land was to leave it as an over-winter fallow with a naturally regenerated green cover. This study was designed to test whether such land was used by seed-eating bird species, populations of many of which have undergone recent severe declines. Five out of six declining species recorded in the study were found in significantly greater numbers on this habitat than would be expected if the birds were randomly distributed over the farmland landscape. The results of this study, covering a wide geographical area, reinforce previous findings of the importance of winter food sources, particularly over-winter stubble fields, to declining farmland seed-eaters. Proposed changes to the CAP under Agenda 2000 include the reduction of the obligatory set-aside rate to zero. These results suggest that such a move might be detrimental to populations of declining farmland birds. There is an urgent need for an agri-environment scheme designed to integrate arable production and conservation objectives, which operates in the wider countryside, includes provision for over-winter stubble fields and is available to every arable farmer.
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The Corncrake Crex crex is a rail which inhabits tall grass and herbage and migrates between breeding grounds in northern Eurasia and wintering areas in south-east Africa. Corncrake populations are known to have been declining for more than 100 years in some countries and declines have now been reported for almost all of the European part of the species's world range. It appears that mechanized mowing early in the breeding season reduces the production of young to a point below that needed to maintain the population. It might therefore be expected that Corncrakes would be least abundant in countries where the management of agricultural grassland is most mechanized and intensive. To test this hypothesis, an analysis of available statistics for agricultural intensity and Corncrake population density in different European countries was undertaken. Milk yield per dairy cow and measures of the use of fertilizers and tractors were used as indices of the intensity of management of agricultural grassland. Corncrakes were least abundant in European countries with high levels of milk yield, fertilizer and tractor use. Countries with low indices of agricultural intensity and high Corncrake abundance are in eastern Europe where continuing political change makes the future course of agricultural development difficult to foresee. The persistence of the Corncrake in this region depends on the adoption of agricultural policies which do not encourage further intensification of grassland management in those areas which support important populations.
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Agricultural abandonment reflects a post war trend in western Europe of rural depopulation to which isolated and poorer areas are most vulnerable. The commercialisation of agriculture, through technological developments, and the influence of Common Agricultural Policy have increased productivity and focused agricultural activity on more fertile and accessible land thus transforming traditional approaches to farming. In many areas this has lead to a decline in traditional labour intensive practices and marginal agricultural land is being abandoned. The problems that these trends create are particularly marked in mountain areas. The social and economic impacts of these changes have been well documented. However, the implications for environmental policy are less well recognised. This paper reviews the literature on abandonment and gives a comparative analysis of European mountain case studies to assess the environmental impacts of land abandonment and decline in traditional farming practices. It finds abandonment is widespread and that, while the influence of environmental changes is unpredictable due to environmental, agricultural and socio-economic contextual factors, abandonment generally has an undesirable effect on the environmental parameters examined. The application of agri-environment policy measures in relation to abandonment is discussed and suggestions for future policy are proposed.
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This study reviews the diet of 26 granivorous bird species of European temperate farmland, and evidence for the effects of agricultural practices on their invertebrate and plant foods, in order to assess whether the latter could have contributed to recent widespread population declines of farmland birds. Cereal grain and seeds of Polygonum (knotgrasses and persicarias), Stellaria (chickweeds) and Chenopodium (goosefoots) are important for the bird species considered. Seeds and green material of Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Brassicaceae are also widely used, the seeds of Asteraceae particularly by cardueline finches. Declining bird species are not associated with particular plant foods, but reductions in overall diversity and abundance of food plants have taken place in intensively managed arable land. Grassland intensification has reduced floral diversity, and the quantity and diversity of grass and broad-leaved seed produced, but some plant species of value to granivorous birds benefit from high-nitrogen environments and may increase in availability (e.g., Stellaria – chickweeds). During the breeding season, Acrididae (grasshoppers), Symphyta (sawflies), Araneae (spiders), Chrysomelidae (leaf-beetles), Curculionidae (weevils), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths and their larvae), Aphididae (aphids) and Tipulidae (crane-flies and their larvae) are important foods. The first four are associated with the diet of declining bird species, and all are sensitive to insecticide applications. Herbicide applications, increasing specialisation of farmland, loss of uncultivated field margin habitats, and ploughing are also associated with generally detrimental effects on invertebrate groups in arable habitats. In intensively managed grassland, loss of grasshoppers, ants, spiders and lepidopteran larvae removes an important source of food for younger chicks of a wide range of species. Some phytophagous taxa and predators, however, may be more abundant due to the greater standing biomass of plant material. Overall, intensification and specialisation of arable and grassland systems is likely to have reduced the availability of key invertebrate and seed foods for birds. However, there is also evidence that reversal of intensification, especially in arable systems can result in rapid recovery of these resources. In intensively managed farmland, uncultivated field margins, hedgerows, ditches and road verges are likely to become increasingly important sources of seed and invertebrate food for birds.
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Any attempt to look into the future must begin with an appreciation of where we are now, and of how we arrived here. This chapter reviews the main features of British agriculture today and looks for the main trends which have prevailed over the past 20 or 30 yr, as revealed by the available statistics. The following aspects have been selected for review as being both capable of numerical assessment and of special significance for the future of farming: yields, prices, agricultural output and income, size of farms and size of enterprises, employment, and landownership and tenure. -from Author
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Outlines the ecological significance of modern cereal crops, identifies a major drawback of intensification and its associated environmental damage (both spatially and temporally) and introduces some possible solutions. The policy known in Europe as "extensification', whereby inputs are reduced, is, for environmental reasons, preferable to that of "set-aside', whereby the size of the area used to grow crops is reduced. -from Author
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The populations of farmland birds in Europe declined markedly during the last quarter of the 20th century, representing a severe threat to biodiversity. Here, we assess whether declines in the populations and ranges of farmland birds across Europe reflect differences in agricultural intensity, which arise largely through differences in political history. Population and range changes were modelled in terms of a number of indices of agricultural intensity. Population declines and range contractions were significantly greater in countries with more intensive agriculture, and significantly higher in the European Union (EU) than in former communist countries. Cereal yield alone explained over 30% of the variation in population trends. The results suggest that recent trends in agriculture have had deleterious and measurable effects on bird populations on a continental scale. We predict that the introduction of EU agricultural policies into former communist countries hoping to accede to the EU in the near future will result in significant declines in the important bird populations there.
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Agri-environment schemes were first launched in England in 1987. A number of schemes are now operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that invite farmers and landowners to enter formal agreements to change their management practices in order to achieve a range of nature, landscape and archaeological conservation objectives. Agreements are based on payments to compensate for loss of income incurred by adopting less intensive, low-input practices that offer potential benefits for biodiversity conservation within agricultural landscapes. The UK Government's response to the Convention on Biological Diversity has included producing a list of priority species and habitats for conservation action. Each of these has its own detailed action plan, including time-limited targets. A significant proportion of these targets can at least in part be met through the agri-environment schemes; the way this is being done is illustrated through examples of lowland heathland and a bird, the cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus. Linking of biodiversity and agri-environment objectives is an important step towards achieving a more sustainable agriculture.
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The recent trend in the European Union for environmental objectives to be incorporated into agriculture policy is not simply because policy-makers in Brussels have been convinced of the important biological value of farmland. Environmental payments to farmers have become a mechanism for supporting farmers whilst at the same time not generating increased production. There are two important reasons why production must be controlled: (i) because former production policies have been so successful, many sectors have over-produced (for example, there are currently 700 000 tons of beef held in EU intervention stores) and this cannot continue; (ii) because the EU has agreed with its world trading partners (through GATT) virtually to remove production subsidies to farmers by the turn of the century. The danger, already apparent, is that environmental objectives will be misused to provide financial support to farms that are of intrinsically low biodiversity and nature conservation value. This will not be admissible under GATT and there is a danger that the misuse of environmental payments will cause major problems in the next round of GATT negotiations. There are therefore good political as well as ecological reasons for much better targeting of environmental support for farmland. Ecological studies that help us to understand the biological processes on farmland may therefore have to be used, not only for developing a more targeted environmental policy but also in the GATT negotiations.
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Declines in the number of breeding Skylarks Alauda arvensis and changes in their reproductive performance were analysed using data from two long-running surveys co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology: the Common Birds Census and the Nest Record Scheme. In the UK, the number of breeding Skylarks declined by approximately 55% between 1975 and 1994. This decline was steepest in agricultural habitats and in regions associated with intensive agriculture. In contrast, Skylark reproductive performance per nest, in terms of clutch size, brood size and post-hatching survival rate of nests, showed a general improvement over time. This improvement was greatest in intensively farmed agricultural habitats. Therefore changes in reproductive performance per nesting attempt were probably not responsible for the decline in numbers. It is inferred that possible causes of the decline of the Skylark are: reductions in the number of breeding attempts per pair per season, reductions in the proportion of birds attempting to breed, and increased mortality outside the breeding season.
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1. Censuses of singing male corncrakes Crex crex (L.) on agricultural land in seven sample areas of Britain and Ireland in 1988 and 1991 indicated that a century-long decline in numbers was continuing. 2. Areas differed in the magnitude of the population change during the 3-year period. Changes ranged from a 4% increase to a 70% decrease. 3. Vegetation surveys were carried out in 1988 and 1991 at sites that were occupied by corncrakes in 1988. A logistic regression model, developed in a previous paper, which describes differences in vegetation between sites that corncrakes had continued or ceased to occupy between 1978/79 and 1988, was applied to the 1988 and 1991 vegetation data in order to estimate area-specific changes in habitat suitability over the 3-year period. 4. Variation in the rate of change of corncrake numbers among geoeographical areas was well explained both by the absolute value of the habitat suitability index in 1991 and the change in the index between 1988 and 1991. 5. Changes in corncrake numbers were better explained by the habitat suitability index than by any of the individual vegetation cover variables used in its calculation. Declines in corncrake numbers were generally associated with reductions in the area of hay-meadows, but increases in short pasture and grassland dominated by Juncus spp. also contributed to declines in corncrake habitat suitability in some areas.
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Reviews the effects of agricultural development on bird populations in Britain, and examines the relationship between farm structure and birdlife and identifies the changing effects of modern agriculture. The 10 chapters cover the historical background to agriculture; farmland bird populations and communities; nesting habitats; food and feeding behaviour; post-war agricultural specialisation; habitats and farm structures; hedgerows; pollution; crop protection, shooting and persecution; and a general outlook. A number of appendices provide details on the Common Bird Census, undertaken by the British Trust for Ornithology; nest records and their analysis; and various agricultural statistics. -after Authors
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1. In many parts of Britain and in other parts of western Europe, the lapwing Vanellus vanellus is declining. In order to determine if the decline in numbers was associated with a reduction in adult or first-year survival rates, an analysis of British ringing recoveries was conducted. 2. There was no evidence that survival after the first year of life was age-dependent. 3. Mean annual adult survival (1930-88) is estimated at 0.705 +- 0.031 (+-95% confidence intervals). Since 1960, adult survival has increased to 0.752 +- 0.046. Two weather variables (mean winter soil temperature and total winter rainfall) explained 69% of the variation in adult survival rates between 1961 and 1979. 4. Mean first-year survival (1930-87) is estimated at 0.595 +- 0.040 (+-95% confidence intervals). As in the adults, the same two weather variables (mean winter soil temperature and total winter rainfall) explained 55% of the variation in first-year survival rates between 1959 and 1979. 5. In order to replace annual adult losses, lapwings should produce in the region of 0.83-0.97 fledglings per pair each year. From a review of the available literature, lapwings produced enough fledglings to maintain the population in only 8 out of 24 studies.
Article
1. Censuses of singing male corncrakes Crex crex (L.) in 1978/79 and 1988 on agricultural land in Britain and Ireland indicated that numbers had, on average, declined by 30% during this time period in areas for which the two censuses were comparable. This represents the continuation of a long-term decline. However, population changes differed among areas, ranging from a 72% decline to a 15% increase. 2. Areas in which the greatest declines had taken place tended to be those in which a high proportion of sites which held corncrakes in 1978/79 had ceased to be occupied by 1988. 3. Sites were identified that were occupied by corncrakes in 1978/79 and that had ceased or continued to be occupied by singing males in 1988. Vegetation surveys were carried out in 1988 at all such sites that could be located with precision. A logistic regression model was used to describe differences in vegetation between sites that corncrakes had continued or ceased to occupy. Sites which continued to be occupied had greater cover of Iris pseudacorus, Phalaris arundinacea and Phragmites australis and hay meadow and less of short dry pasture and wet pasture dominated by Juncus spp. and Carex spp. 4. There were highly significant differences between geographical areas in the proportion of previously occupied sites at which corncrakes continued to occur. A significant part of this variation was explicable in terms of the modelled effects of differences in vegetation cover. Geographical variations in population change were also correlated with an index of habitat suitability based on the logistic regression model. 5. It is suggested that changes in grassland management have contributed to the continuing decline in the corncrake populations in Britain and Ireland.
Article
1, Skylark numbers declined by 51% between 1968 and 1995 on UK lowland farmland; a loss of approximately 3 million breeding birds. This study examined whether distribution and breeding success of skylarks varied with the cropping of organically and intensively managed fields in southern England in accordance with the hypothesis that changes in agricultural land-use and intensity of management have contributed to this decline. 2, Density was lowest on fields surrounded by tall boundary structures or unsuitable habitat, and those with tall, dense vegetation cover. After controlling for these effects, set-aside and organically-cropped fields supported significantly higher skylark densities throughout the breeding season than intensively cropped fields or grazed pasture. Nests were usually built in crops between 20 and 50 cm tall. In fast-growing broadleaved crops (e.g. oilseed rape, legumes), skylarks held territories, but no nesting activity was observed. Rapid crop growth probably allows too little time for nesting to begin. 3. Breeding success was higher on set-aside than on intensively managed cereals. Predation caused most nest failures, but did not vary in frequency with crop type. Silage cutting and trampling caused many failures on grass fields, and all cases of apparent brood starvation occurred in cereal fields. These breeding success data, together with published estimates of survival rates, suggest that skylark pairs must make 2-3 nesting attempts per season in order for populations to be self-sustaining. A single crop type rarely provides a suitable vegetation structure for nesting throughout the breeding season. Skylarks therefore require structurally diverse crop mosaics in order to make multiple nesting attempts without territory enlargement or abandonment. Mixed farms are more likely to fulfil these requirements than those dominated by winter cereals and broad-leaved crops. 4, These results are consistent with the hypothesis that loss of mixed farming and rotational cropping, and concomitant increases in autumn sowing of crops, agrochemical inputs, multiple silage cuts and grazing intensities since the 1950s have reduced the breeding productivity and population density of skylarks on lowland farmland in southern England. 5, The following recommendations are made for changes in farming systems that would assist the conservation of breeding skylark populations on lowland farmland. Organic farming systems, set-aside and habitat management for gamebirds are all likely to improve nesting and feeding conditions for skylarks, More generally, breeding skylark populations are only likely to increase on farms that reduce agrochemical inputs, reduce grazing intensity and frequency of silage cutting, and increase the structural diversity of field vegetation by adopting mixed rotations of winter and spring cereals, root crops and grass. Traditional mixed farming systems of this kind are now rarely economically desirable. Only agricultural policy reforms motivated in part by environmental concerns rather than solely by production control are likely to direct subsidy support to reduced-intensity, mixed farming enterprises of this kind, and thus help to restore populations of breeding skylarks on lowland farmland.
Article
The drive to squeeze ever more food from the land has sent Europe's farmland wildlife into a precipitous decline. How can agricultural policy be reformed so that we have fewer grain mountains and more skylarks?
Article
The selection of foraging habitats by nine radio-tagged adult lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) breeding in one colony in southern Spain, was studied in 1989 and 1990. Despite individual differences in the feeding habitat, there was a general tendency for grassland to be used more, and sunflower and woodlots to be used less, than expected by their availability. 2. The relatively higher food availability (measured as the number of hovering bouts by the lesser kestrels to catch one prey) of grasslands and cereals would explain the kestrels' preference for these habitats. 3. Since the 1950s, uncultivated grasslands in the area have decreased drastically and have been replaced by new crops, such as sunflowers. If grasslands continue to decrease in southern Spain, the progressive decline of lesser kestrel populations will probably continue in those areas.
Article
We used extensive atlas and census data to assess trends in the distribution and population levels of birds on lowland farmland in Britain between the late 1960s and early 1990s. Many species of farmland birds have become less widespread or have declined in numbers, or both, but few have become more wide-spread or have increased. Of the 28 species classified as farmland birds the distributions of 24 contracted between 1970 and 1990. Of the 18 farmland species for which it was possible to assess population change, 15 were less abundant in 1990 than in 1970. Seven of the species were estimated to have undergone population decreases of at least 50%. Farmland species showing the largest population declines tended also to show substantial range contractions. Farmland species underwent an appreciably larger contraction of distribution than species associated with any other habitat. Furthermore, farmland species tended to decrease in abundance, whereas woodland species tended to increase. Population declines among farmland birds became evident in the mid- to late 1970s, a period when several fundamental changes were taking place in British agricultural practices. These included a great reduction in the spring sowing of cereals, a simplification of crop rotations, increased use of chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers, and more-intensive grassland management. We suggest that the declines of farmland bird species have been caused or aggravated by this pervasive intensification of agriculture. Existing research on declining farmland birds, however, indicates that there is no single mechanism underlying the population changes. We identify priorities for research, focusing mainly on relationships between bird populations and agricultural practices, but we also recognize a need for a better understanding of the role of predation.