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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Landscape composition influences farm management effects on farmland birds in winter: A pan-European approach

Geiger, Flavia; de Snoo, Geert R.; Berendse, Frank; Guerrero, Irene; Morales, Manuel B.; Onate, Juan J.; Eggers, Sönke; Pärt, Tomas; Bommarco, Riccardo; Bengtsson, Jan; Clement, Lars W.; Weisser, Wolfgang W.; Olszewski, Adam; Ceryngier, Piotr; Hawro, Violetta; Inchausti, Pablo; Fischer, Christina; Flohre, Andreas; Thies, Carsten; Tscharntke, Teja


This study examined the effects of agricultural intensity, various farming practices, landscape composition and vegetation cover on the abundance and species richness of wintering farmland birds, assessed simultaneously across seven European regions.The abundance and species richness of wintering farmland birds were negatively affected by agricultural intensity. The effects of yield and farm type were interlinked. Of the 10 farming practices assessed, mechanical weeding and the amount of organic fertilizer applied negatively affected farmland birds, presumably due to reduced food availability on arable fields. Positive effects of organic farming on farmland birds proved to be limited to simplified landscapes. More farmland birds were observed in areas with more stubble, pasture and green manure crops. Species richness was higher in areas with more pasture.The results of this study show that farm management, vegetation cover and landscape composition all influence wintering farmland birds. Heterogeneous landscapes comprising arable crops as well as grasslands support most species of farmland birds in winter. The effectiveness of organic farming and agri-environment schemes depends on landscape composition. Therefore, different agri-environment schemes should be designed for different landscape types. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Organic farming; Farming practice; Agricultural intensification; Arable; Agri-environment scheme

Published in

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
2010, Volume: 139, number: 4, pages: 571-577