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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Forest clear-cuts as additional habitat for breeding farmland birds in crisis

Zmihorski, Michal; Berg, Åke; Pärt, Tomas


Forest clear-cuts may offer suitable habitats for farmland birds, however empirical evidence on the effect of clear-cut size, age and distance from farmland habitats is largely lacking. In this study we investigated local (alpha) and total (gamma) diversity of farmland birds in 137 clear-cuts in a large forest in western Poland. Eighteen farmland bird species were recorded, of which 10 are included in the Polish Farmland Bird Index. Local alpha diversity of farmland birds was higher in older (5-10 yrs) and larger clear-cuts and declined with increasing distance to the forest-farmland edge. Local species communities displayed a high degree of turnover among clear-cuts and the gamma diversity of farmland birds was nearly twice as high in clear-cuts located close to the forest-farmland edge (i.e. below 1.3 km from the edge; 17 species) compared to clear-cuts located in the forest interior (9 species), and in large clear-cuts (i.e. over 3.1 ha, 17 species) compared to small clear-cuts (9 species). Our study shows that the additional habitat of clear cuts in forest landscapes may potentially contribute to overall biodiversity of farmland birds in a region and should thus be included in monitoring and conservation of farmland birds. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Agriculture; Alpha diversity; Birds; Conservation; Gamma diversity; Woodlots

Published in

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
2016, volume: 233, pages: 291-297

Authors' information

Zmihorski, Michal
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Zmihorski, Michal
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)
Berg, Åke
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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