Farmland birds on AES/control farms 2003-2015
Data CreatorPerkins, Allan
MetadataShow full item record
CitationPerkins, Allan. (2017). Farmland birds on AES/control farms 2003-2015, 2003-2015 [dataset].
Description1. The decline of farmland birds across Europe is an especially well-documented case of biodiversity loss, and despite land stewardship supported by funding from agri-environment schemes (AES), the negative trends have not yet been reversed. 2. To investigate the effect of AES towards farmland bird conservation, we compared abundance of five farmland bird species across twelve years and 53 farms (158 farm years = AES, 72 farm years = non AES) in Northeastern Scotland (UK), a region with relatively low intensity mixed farmland. 3. Between 2003 and 2015, on both AES and control farms, skylark (Alauda arvensis) declined in abundance, whereas tree sparrow (Passer montanus) and yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) abundance increased, and reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) and linnet (Carduelis cannabina) populations remained relatively stable. 4. We did not detect a significant association between AES and avian abundance or population trends for any of these species, but there were positive associations with some AES management options. 5. Possible explanations for the lack of a significant AES-bird abundance association include poor uptake of the best AES options for farmland birds, sub-optimal implementation, spill-over effects from AES onto control farms, and the relatively good state of farmland habitats outwith AES in Northeastern Scotland. 6. Synthesis and applications. As with many other studies, we found a weak effect size of AES participation on farmland bird abundance, and recommend that future monitoring studies be designed after consulting a power analysis. We also suggest that the multi-membership modelling approach we apply provides an efficient means of estimating the separate associations between AES management options and bird abundance, despite them being applied in various combinations, and could be used more widely in assessment of conservation interventions.
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