Harnessing the biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland
Sutcliffe, L.M.E. ; Batary, P. ; Kormann, U. ; Baldi, A. ; Dicks, L.V. ; Herzon, I. ; Kleijn, D. ; Tscharntke, T. - \ 2015
Diversity and Distributions 21 (2015)6. - ISSN 1366-9516 - p. 722 - 730.
agri-environmental measures - buntings miliaria-calandra - common agricultural policy - land-use intensity - species richness - bird populations - member states - eu accession - intensification - conservation
A large proportion of European biodiversity today depends on habitat provided by low-intensity farming practices, yet this resource is declining as European agriculture intensifies. Within the European Union, particularly the central and eastern new member states have retained relatively large areas of species-rich farmland, but despite increased investment in nature conservation here in recent years, farmland biodiversity trends appear to be worsening. Although the high biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland has long been reported, the amount of research in the international literature focused on farmland biodiversity in this region remains comparatively tiny, and measures within the EU Common Agricultural Policy are relatively poorly adapted to support it. In this opinion study, we argue that, 10 years after the accession of the first eastern EU new member states, the continued under-representation of the low-intensity farmland in Central and Eastern Europe in the international literature and EU policy is impeding the development of sound, evidence-based conservation interventions. The biodiversity benefits for Europe of existing low-intensity farmland, particularly in the central and eastern states, should be harnessed before they are lost. Instead of waiting for species-rich farmland to further decline, targeted research and monitoring to create locally appropriate conservation strategies for these habitats is needed now.
Do field margins enrich the diet of the Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis on intensive farmland?
Ottens, H.J. ; Kuiper, M.W. ; Flinks, H. ; Ruijven, J. van; Siepel, H. ; Koks, B.J. ; Berendse, F. ; Snoo, G.R. de - \ 2014
Ardea 102 (2014)2. - ISSN 0373-2266 - p. 161 - 174.
false discovery rate - sown weed strips - food resources - nestling diet - agricultural intensification - bird populations - breeding-season - adjacent fields - perdix-perdix - prey quality
To help restore food availability for birds, arable field margins (extensively managed strips of land sown with grasses and forbs) have been established on European farmland. In this study we describe the effect of field margins on the diet of Eurasian Skylark nestlings and adults living on intensively managed Dutch farmland. We tested the hypotheses that field margins offer a higher diversity of invertebrate prey than intensively managed crops, and that the diet of nestlings receiving food from field margins will therefore be more diverse than that of other nestlings. Field margins had a greater variety of invertebrate prey groups to offer than the intensively managed crops. Coleoptera were the most frequently and most abundantly eaten prey group by both adults and nestlings. Together, Coleoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and Araneae accounted for 91% of the nestling diet. Nestlings ate larger prey items and a larger proportion of larvae than adults. Almost 75% of both adults and nestlings consumed plant material, perhaps indicating a scarcity of invertebrate resources. When provided with food from field margins, the mean number of invertebrate orders in the nestling diet increased significantly from 4.7 to 5.5 and the number of families from 4.2 to 5.8 per sample. Thus, birds that used field margins for foraging could indeed provide their young with more invertebrate prey groups than birds only foraging in crops and grassland.
Evaluating the effectiveness of road mitigation measures
Grift, E.A. van der; Ree, R. van; Fahrig, L. ; Houlahan, J.E. ; Jaeger, J.A.G. ; Klar, N. ; Francisco Madriñan, L. ; Olson, L. - \ 2013
Biodiversity and Conservation 22 (2013)2. - ISSN 0960-3115 - p. 425 - 448.
non-wildlife passages - banff-national-park - high-speed railway - frog rana-arvalis - large mammals - gene flow - habitat fragmentation - southern california - crossing structures - bird populations
The last 20 years have seen a dramatic increase in efforts to mitigate the negative effects of roads and traffic on wildlife, including fencing to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions and wildlife crossing structures to facilitate landscape connectivity. While not necessarily explicitly articulated, the fundamental drivers behind road mitigation are human safety, animal welfare, and/or wildlife conservation. Concomitant with the increased effort to mitigate has been a focus on evaluating road mitigation. So far, research has mainly focussed on assessing the use of wildlife crossing structures, demonstrating that a broad range of species use them. However, this research has done little to address the question of the effectiveness of crossing structures, because use of a wildlife crossing structure does not necessarily equate to its effectiveness. The paucity of studies directly examining the effectiveness of crossing structures is exacerbated by the fact that such studies are often poorly designed, which limits the level of inference that can be made. Without well performed evaluations of the effectiveness of road mitigation measures, we may endanger the viability of wildlife populations and inefficiently use financial resources by installing structures that are not as effective as we think they are. In this paper we outline the essential elements of a good experimental design for such assessments and prioritize the parameters to be measured. The framework we propose will facilitate collaboration between road agencies and scientists to undertake research programs that fully evaluate effectiveness of road mitigation measures. We discuss the added value of road mitigation evaluations for policy makers and transportation agencies and provide recommendations on how to incorporate such evaluations in road planning practices.
Does conservation on farmland contribute to halting the biodiversity decline?
Kleijn, D. ; Rundlöf, M. ; Scheper, J.A. ; Smith, H.G. ; Tscharntke, T. - \ 2011
Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26 (2011)9. - ISSN 0169-5347 - p. 474 - 481.
agri-environment schemes - land-use intensity - agricultural intensification - landscape context - species richness - european countries - bird populations - biological-control - grazing intensity - natural enemies
Biodiversity continues to decline, despite the implementation of international conservation conventions and measures. To counteract biodiversity loss, it is pivotal to know how conservation actions affect biodiversity trends. Focussing on European farmland species, we review what is known about the impact of conservation initiatives on biodiversity. We argue that the effects of conservation are a function of conservation-induced ecological contrast, agricultural land-use intensity and landscape context. We find that, to date, only a few studies have linked local conservation effects to national biodiversity trends. It is therefore unknown how the extensive European agri-environmental budget for conservation on farmland contributes to the policy objectives to halt biodiversity decline. Based on this review, we identify new research directions addressing this important knowledge gap.
On the relationship between farmland biodiversity and land-use intensity in Europe
Kleijn, D. ; Kohler, F. ; Báldi, A. ; Batáry, P. ; Concepción, E.D. ; Clough, Y. ; Diaz, M. ; Gabriel, D. ; Holzschuh, A. ; Knop, E. ; Marshall, E.J.P. ; Tscharntke, T. ; Verhulst, J. - \ 2009
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 276 (2009)1658. - ISSN 0962-8452 - p. 903 - 909.
agri-environment schemes - agricultural intensification - species richness - bird populations - diversity - landscape - areas - conservation - scale - set
Worldwide agriculture is one of the main drivers of biodiversity decline. Effective conservation strategies depend on the type of relationship between biodiversity and land-use intensity, but to date the shape of this relationship is unknown. We linked plant species richness with nitrogen (N) input as an indicator of land-use intensity on 130 grasslands and 141 arable fields in six European countries. Using Poisson regression, we found that plant species richness was significantly negatively related to N input on both field types after the effects of confounding environmental factors had been accounted for. Subsequent analyses showed that exponentially declining relationships provided a better fit than linear or unimodal relationships and that this was largely the result of the response of rare species (relative cover less than 1%). Our results indicate that conservation benefits are disproportionally more costly on high-intensity than on low-intensity farmland. For example, reducing N inputs from 75 to 0 and 400 to 60¿kg¿ha-1¿yr-1 resulted in about the same estimated species gain for arable plants. Conservation initiatives are most (cost-)effective if they are preferentially implemented in extensively farmed areas that still support high levels of biodiversity
The effect of 'mosaic management' on the demography of black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa on farmland
Schekkerman, H. ; Teunissen, W. ; Oosterveld, E. - \ 2008
Journal of Applied Ecology 45 (2008)4. - ISSN 0021-8901 - p. 1067 - 1075.
agri-environment schemes - bird populations - agricultural intensification - food resources - success - chicks - biodiversity - netherlands - grasslands - survival
1. Like many farmland birds, the largest European population of the black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, in The Netherlands, has been declining for decades despite conservation measures including agri-environment schemes (AES). In a new experimental AES aiming to reverse this decline, collectives of farmers implemented spatially coordinated site-level habitat management ('mosaic management') including delayed and staggered mowing of fields, refuge strips and active nest protection. 2. We evaluated the effectiveness of mosaic management by measuring godwit breeding success in six experimental sites and paired controls. Productivity was higher in mosaics than in controls due to fewer agricultural nest losses. Chick fledging success was poor in both treatments. Productivity compensated for adult mortality in only one AES site. 3. Although creating chick habitat was a major management goal, the availability of tall grass during the fledging period did not differ between treatments, mainly because rainfall delayed mowing in all sites and study years. However, chick survival increased with the availability of tall grass among sites. Higher chick survival will thus enhance the positive effect of mosaic management in drier years, but sensitivity to weather represents a weakness of the AES design. 4. Available estimates of productivity in Dutch godwits suggest a strong reduction over the past 20 years and implicate chick survival as the main driver of their decline. Earlier mowing of grassland is the main causal mechanism, but changes in vegetation structure and composition, and increased predation may also have contributed. 5. Synthesis and applications. Demographic rates like breeding success are useful parameters for evaluating effects of management. Mosaic management increases the productivity of black-tailed godwits, but does not ensure long-term population viability for this flagship species of wet grassland bird communities. More stringent management prescriptions need to improve both the area and the quality (vegetation structure) of grassland mown late. Management efforts should be concentrated in areas with favourable pre-conditions in order to improve overall effectiveness.
Impacts of land-use change on biodiversity: An assessment of agricultural biodiversity in the European Union
Reidsma, P. ; Tekelenburg, T. ; Berg, M.M. van den; Alkemade, R. - \ 2006
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 114 (2006)1. - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 86 - 102.
grazing management - succulent thicket - bird populations - south-africa - diversity - vegetation - abundance - landscape - farmland - insect
The objective of this study is to assess land-use intensity and the related biodiversity in agricultural landscapes of the EU25 for the current situation (2000), and explore future trends, based on the four EURURALIS scenarios up to 2030. Data from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) were used to classify farm types in 100 regions of the EU15, according to agricultural intensity. For the ten New Member States (EU10), which are not yet considered by the FADN, country level data were used to obtain similar farm types. Three processes were considered for the assessment of future trends in agricultural land-use intensity: (1) land-use change, (2) conversion into organic farming, and (3) changes in productivity of crop and grassland production. An ecosystem quality value was attributed to each farm type according to dose-effect relationships between pressure factors and biodiversity compared to the value for an undisturbed situation. The biodiversity in agricultural landscapes was then calculated as the average ecosystem quality multiplied by the relative area size of each farm type within a region. A similar method of attributing ecosystem quality values to other land-use types allowed comparison between different land-use types. Referring to the current situation, results indicate the lowest ecosystem quality values to be found in intensively used agricultural areas in lowlands (e.g. The Netherlands and northern France) and irrigation systems (e.g. Greece), whereas relatively high values are found in Spain and the New EU Member States. Scenario results show that for the A1 scenario (Global economy), the highest loss in ecosystem quality will take place in all regions in croplands and grasslands. The B2 scenario (Regional communities) provides the best opportunities to improve ecosystem quality of agricultural landscapes. In most scenarios, agricultural land is decreasing, while the remaining agricultural areas tend to be used more intensively. The negative impact of intensification on biodiversity is partly set off by (active or spontaneous) nature development on abandoned agricultural areas, but the overall trend seems to be generally negative. The strength of this methodology is that it provides a quick overview of land-use intensity change and biodiversity trends. Through the use of this farm-type level of analysis we have provided a good picture of the differences in land-use intensity and the related biodiversity between the EU regions and the scenarios
How effective are European agri-environment schemes in conserving and promoting biodiversity?
Kleijn, D. ; Sutherland, W.J. - \ 2003
Journal of Applied Ecology 40 (2003)6. - ISSN 0021-8901 - p. 947 - 969.
natuurbescherming - wildbescherming - landbouwbeleid - evaluatie - landen van de europese unie - agrarisch natuurbeheer - nature conservation - wildlife conservation - agricultural policy - evaluation - european union countries - agri-environment schemes - herbicide-tolerant crops - skylarks alauda-arvensis - farm-scale evaluations - cereal fields - agricultural landscape - headland management - grazing intensity - bird populations - southern england - conservation
1. Increasing concern over the environmental impact of agriculture in Europe has led to the introduction of agri-environment schemes. These schemes compensate farmers financially for any loss of income associated with measures that aim to benefit the environment or biodiversity. There are currently agri-environment schemes in 26 out of 44 European countries. 2. Agri-environment schemes vary markedly between countries even within the European Union. The main objectives include reducing nutrient and pesticide emissions, protecting biodiversity, restoring landscapes and preventing rural depopulation. In virtually all countries the uptake of schemes is highest in areas of extensive agriculture where biodiversity is still relatively high and lowest in intensively farmed areas where biodiversity is low. 3. Approximately e24.3 billion has been spent on agri-environment schemes in the European Union (EU) since 1994, an unknown proportion of it on schemes with biodiversity conservation aims. We carried out a comprehensive search for studies that test the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes in published papers or reports. Only 62 evaluation studies were found originating from just five EU countries and Switzerland (5). Indeed 76% of the studies were from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where until now only c. 6% of the EU agri-environmental budget has been spent. Other studies were from Germany (6), Ireland (3) and Portugal (1). 4. In the majority of studies, the research design was inadequate to assess reliably the effectiveness of the schemes. Thirty-one percent did not contain a statistical analysis. Where an experimental approach was used, designs were usually weak and biased towards giving a favourable result. The commonest experimental design (37% of the studies) was a comparison of biodiversity in agri-environment schemes and control areas. However, there is a risk of bias if either farmers or scheme co-ordinators select the sites for agri-environment schemes. In such cases the sites are likely to have a higher biodiversity at the outset compared to the controls. This problem may be addressed by collecting baseline data (34% of studies), comparing trends (32%) or changes (26%) in biodiversity between areas with and without schemes or by pairing scheme and control sites that experience similar environmental conditions (16%). 5. Overall, 54% of the examined species (groups) demonstrated increases and 6% decreases in species richness or abundance compared with controls. Seventeen percent showed increases for some species and decreases for other species, while 23% showed no change at all in response to agri-environment schemes. The response varied between taxa. Of 19 studies examining the response of birds that included a statistical analysis, four showed significant increases in species richness or abundance, two showed decreases and nine showed both increases and decreases. Comparative figures for 20 arthropod studies yielded 11 studies that showed an increase in species richness or abundance, no study showed a decrease and three showed both increases and decreases. Fourteen plant studies yielded six studies that showed increases in species richness or abundance, two showed decreases and no study showed both increases and decreases. 6. Synthesis and applications. The lack of robust evaluation studies does not allow a general judgement of the effectiveness of European agri-environment schemes. We suggest that in the future, ecological evaluations must become an integral part of any scheme, including the collection of baseline data, the random placement of scheme and control sites in areas with similar initial conditions, and sufficient replication. Results of these studies should be collected and disseminated more widely, in order to identify the approaches and prescriptions that best deliver biodiversity enhancement and value for money from community support.