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The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds - BD1616

Description
The deleterious effects of agricultural intensification on the abundance and diversity of farmland birds are now generally accepted. DEFRA has adopted as one of its eight Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets to reverse the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 as measured by the farmland bird index (the populations trends of 20 bird species). In addition a number of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species are farmland birds for which DEFRA is the lead agency. Many of these farmland bird index species and BAP species are granivores and their population declines are likely to be linked to reduced food availability in winter associated with the loss of over-winter stubble. As a result a range of measures have been introduced, or are being considered, which will improve the winter feeding conditions for a number of declining seed-eating birds on farmland e.g. stubble retention or establishment of wild bird cover. To ensure these measures deliver their biodiversity targets in the most cost-effective way four critical questions need to be addressed. These are: (i) At the national scale - which regions would benefit most? (ii) At the regional scale - does it matter whether sites are scattered or clumped? (iii) At the local scale - which sort of field/patch is best? (iv) At the local scale - do enhanced winter food resources increase the breeding populations of granivorous birds?

The project outlined in this proposal is designed to address each of these questions using a combination of existing and new field data on birds and their habitat in winter and a novel large-scale experiment. The results will provide a rigorous scientific basis for recommendations relating to the development and implementation of agri-environment measures, particularly the optimal spatial distribution at which to enhance food resources for seed-eating birds in winter. The research will be a critical advance towards quantifying the scale at which resource provision is required to achieve recovery of farmland bird populations.
Objective
1. Determine the national variation in the need for winter foraging habitat by quantifying the use by birds of stubble fields across England and Wales and relating bird abundance in winter stubble to the local availability of stubble and summer breeding habitat.
2. Determine the scale over which ‘seed-patches’ (e.g. stubbles or wild bird cover) operate by determining at what scale different patches sustain separate bird populations rather than provide alternatives for the same population.
3. Assess what habitat feature affects the extent to which birds utilise increased seed resources on a local scale (e.g. field size, hedgerow type and vegetation type).
4. Determine whether providing winter food increases local breeding populations.
5. Make policy and practical recommendations for the location and distribution of patches of seed-rich winter habitat for granivorous birds at local, regional and national scales and highlight key future research needs relating to the creation of additional winter food resources for farmland birds.
Project Documents
• Final Report : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (2118k)
• Annual Report : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter resources for birds   (353k)
• Annual Report : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter resources for birds   (72k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (140k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (116k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (64k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (4169k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (110k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (72k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (3540k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (186k)
• Final Report - Annex : The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds   (110k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2005

Cost: £561,709
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Trust For Ornithology, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, University - East Anglia
Keywords
Agricultural Land              
Biodiversity              
Environmental Protection              
Land              
Peer Review              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship