Testing agri-environment delivery for farmland birds at the farm scale: the Hillesden experiment

Hinsley, Shelley A.; Redhead, John W.; Bellamy, Paul E.; Broughton, Richard K.; Hill, Ross A.; Heard, Matthew S.; Pywell, Richard F.. 2010 Testing agri-environment delivery for farmland birds at the farm scale: the Hillesden experiment. Ibis, 152. 500-514.

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The Hillesden experiment, established in 2005 ⁄ 2006 to test the delivery of biodiversity benefits under Environmental Stewardship, covers c. 1000 ha of arable farmland in central lowland England. It is a randomized block experiment with five replicates of three treatments: (1) CC: cross compliance, the control; (2) ELS: 1% of land removed from production for wildlife habitat provision; and (3) ELS-X: 5% of land used for wildlife habitat, each treatment being applied to contiguous areas of 70–80 ha. Bird usage of winter food patches, comprising three different seed mixes, was monitored through the winter and was also related to seed yield. Winter and breeding season bird ⁄ territory abundance was recorded before and after the provision of the winter food patches. Bird use of the patches differed between seed mixes. There was large variation between individual patches in both seed yield and bird numbers and between individual bird species in their use of different seed mixes, suggesting that the availability of a range of patch types would be beneficial. Use of all patch types declined sharply in late January to February, indicating depletion and ⁄ or inability of birds to access shed seed. Winter bird abundance at a farm scale for all species combined, granivorous species and nine individual species increased for all monitored species when seed patches were available. At a treatment level, the increases tended to be greater in ELS-X, where most of the patches were located. In the breeding season at a farm scale, the numbers of territories for all species combined and granivorous species increased significantly when seed patches had been available in the previous winter. There was little evidence of a treatment-scale response. The provision of winter food appeared to increase winter bird abundance and to follow on into an overall increase in the breeding population, but if the latter effect is to be reflected elsewhere, this requires that sufficient breeding habitat is available to accommodate an increase.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0019-1019
Additional Pages: 1
Additional Keywords: Environmental Stewardship, habitat type, supplementary feeding, territory density, winter bird abundance, winter seed patches
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 30 Sep 2010 14:44 +0 (UTC)

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