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National responses of farmland birds to agri-environment schemes (AES) - LM0472

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) provides an ongoing, independent data resource designed to quantify trends in widespread breeding bird populations at the national scale, and so is ideal for assessing the effects of AES management that is intended to drive changes at that scale. Ongoing and repeated evaluation of the effects of AES management on target features is critical because (i) the effects may be cumulative and, hence, more detectable over time, (ii) management options and the responses of target and non-target organisms may mature, leading to changes in effect sizes or even directions relative to previous pilot studies or short-term evaluations, and (iii) impacts may be modulated by changes in gross environmental conditions, such as background habitats (notably cropping patterns) or weather, meaning that the inference from earlier assessments becomes misleading. Two previous studies (in 2011 and 2014) have successfully analysed ES effects using BBS data, but it is now timely for a further repeat analysis to reveal which ES effects remain or are changing as the predominant source of management in the landscape shifts from ES to CS, and the nature of agreements and their extent/spatial distributions change. In addition, sufficient time has now elapsed so that options that were introduced into ES in 2010 may have generated detectable impacts, and so that they can be evaluated for the first time.
The objectives of this project are:
1. To update the two previous analyses (undertaken in 2011 and 2014) to incorporate the further available years of BBS data and ES/CS management, considering summaries of effects both across species for single options and across options for individual target species.
2. To conduct analyses examining whether option effects have changed over time, considering (where possible) what could have driven any changes found.
3. To interpret the results of work towards Objectives 1 and 2 in respect of the implications for effects of CS on bird populations given current patterns of scheme and option uptake.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2017

To: 2018

Cost: £34,455
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Trust For Ornithology (BTO)
Environmental Stewardship