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Development of indicator species to measure pesticide impact on farmland wildlife - PS2313

Description
It is notoriously difficult to monitor the impact of pesticide use on farmland wildlife, especially birds. What is needed, as identified by the Outcomes and Indicators Subgroup of the Pesticide Forum, is a robust and practical indicator of pesticide impact on farmland wildife, for use in measuring the success of the government’s Pesticide Impact Reduction Policy. This proposal seeks to construct such an indicator, based on sampling invertebrate abundance and weed occurrence in cereals.
The impact of pesticide use on these taxa, many of which are eaten by farmland birds, is well known thanks not least to a comprehensive long-term study of the cereal ecosystem by The Game Conservancy Trust (GCT). This study combines 35 years of data on cereal weeds and invertebrates in Sussex with detailed long-term information on field-scale pesticide use; it is one of the largest of its kind in the world. An analysis of the first 26 years of data linked pesticide use to impacts on farmland wildlife at a wider scale than previously demonstrated. Regulatory authorities need to be confident that these findings remain valid and are typical of a wider spectrum of cereal-growing areas.
We propose to update the information on pesticide use, and determine whether the relationships between pesticide use and changes in weed occurrence and invertebrate abundance still hold, paying particular attention to the effect of recent changes in pesticides approved for use, as well as the effect of other aspects of the farmed environment, e.g. crop type, rotations and timing of pesticide application. Additionally, the GCT has collected similar information over the last 12 years from Leicestershire (Loddington), thereby providing an independent long-term dataset enabling further examination of the links between pesticide use and changes in wildlife abundance. By comparing pesticide usage on these areas with nationally available figures, we can gauge how representative of UK cereal growing are the Sussex and Loddington datasets.
Finally, we will determine which groups of invertebrates and plants are most consistently sensitive to pesticide use in the field. Of special interest will be chick food indices and weed indices encompassing important food items for farmland birds, as recommended by the Wider Biodiversity Project (PS2403). This knowledge will be used to develop one or more wildlife indicators of pesticide impact, and produce an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses as proxy indicators of the national picture. Having two study sites to determine the effectiveness of the indicator will help to determine its usefulness over areas outside the southeast of England.
Objective
1. Update the Sussex database to include pesticide use data from 1996 to 2004.

2. Compare the relationships between pesticide use, weeds, invertebrates and grey partridge chick survival over the last 9 years with those previously observed, taking into consideration other farming practices.

3. Analyse the matching dataset from Loddington and compare with the results from Sussex.

4. Assess representativeness of Sussex and Loddington data by comparison of pesticide usage with national figures, and of insect trends with those from the Rothamsted Insect Suction Trapping network.

5. Identify the invertebrate and weed groups most sensitive to pesticide use, and develop an indicator of the impact of pesticide use on farmland wildlife.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Development of indicator species to measure pesticide impact on farmland wildlife   (304k)
• Final Report - Annex : Development of indicator species to measure pesticide impact on farmland wildlife   (686k)
• Final Report - Annex : Development of indicator species to measure pesticide impact on farmland wildlife   (873k)
• Final Report - Annex : Development of indicator species to measure pesticide impact on farmland wildlife   (47k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2006

Cost: £76,579
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Game & Wildlife Conservancy Trust
Keywords
Birds              
Environmental Effects              
Farming              
Impact              
Indicators              
Pest and Weed Control              
Pesticide use              
Pesticides              
Plants and Animals              
Wildlife              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety