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2016 survey of breeding waders on in-bye land - LM0462

Reversing the decline in farmland bird populations was a targeted outcome of ES, and will remain a key priority for its successor AES in England, Countryside Stewardship (CS). This reflects the fact that the state of farmland birds is an ‘impact indicator’ for AE schemes at an EU level, and that farmland bird populations are used as an indicator of progress with the England Biodiversity Strategy Biodiversity 2020. As a result, monitoring the response of key farmland bird species is a key element of the Defra/NE ELMS Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. Previous work under Lot 7 has successfully repeated the analysis of Baker et al. (2012) using a longer data run, investigated the effectiveness of the supplementary feeding options in ELS and HLS, and conducted a repeat survey (in 2014) of the breeding birds on 65 HLS farms originally surveyed in 2008 and, again, in 2011. The objective of this mini-tender is to improve our understanding of the effects of HLS management on breeding grassland waders which nest and forage on in-bye farmland (rush pastures, semi-improved pastures and meadows below the moor wall) in the English uplands. Available information indicates that, in many areas, this land is still of considerable importance for several species of breeding waders which have declined greatly in lowland wet grasslands and other lowland habitats in recent years. It is therefore of critical importance to assess the value of HLS to these species and to understand what improvements might be necessary to maintain or increase upland breeding populations under future AES.
1. To assess the scope and value of data on historical wader populations on in-bye farmland in England in order to inform changes with respect to agri-environment management up to 2016.
2. To analyse the available data to reveal evidence for patterns of change in wader abundance in regions and habitats relevant to in-bye farmland in recent decades.
3. To plan a survey of waders on English in-bye land commencing spring 2016, including the selection of a random sample of survey areas, stratified by target species density (as measured by Bird Atlas 2007-11).
4. To conduct the survey planned under Objective 3 during April-July 2016, and to collect digitized data on the locations of waders in the breeding season at the scale of and specific to individual fields.
5. To identify habitat preferences of waders in the breeding season on in-bye land, including measurement of a sample of fields under relevant agri-environment management options.
6. To estimate the proportions of the national populations of target wader species that are found on in-bye farmland, as a measure of the conservation importance of this habitat.
7. To use the historical data sources identified under Objective 1 and the new data collected in 2016 to assess, at as fine a scale as possible and with as much quantification as possible, where and by how much numbers have changed over time and how these changes relate to the provision of habitat under agri-environment schemes.
8. To inform future agri-environment targeting by providing field-scale maps of wader distributions both within surveyed tetrads and, from models predicting counts with respect to land-use and the Atlas stratification, other areas of in-bye land.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : LM0462 Breeding waders final report   (2340k)
• TPS - Two Page Summary : LM0462 Breeding wader report 2 page summary   (246k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2016

To: 2017

Cost: £265,374
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Trust For Ornithology (BTO)