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Pond management enhances the local abundance and species richness of farmland bird communities

Lewis-Phillips, J; Brooks, S; Sayer, CD; McCrea, R; Siriwardena, G; Axmacher, JC; (2019) Pond management enhances the local abundance and species richness of farmland bird communities. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment , 273 pp. 130-140. 10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.015. Green open access

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Agricultural intensification and the associated loss of non-cropped habitats have caused a major decline in UK farmland bird populations since the 1970s. As a consequence, there is an urgent need to implement effective conservation and habitat restoration measures in agricultural landscapes. Over the last 40–50 years, due to the cessation of traditional management practices, the majority of UK farmland ponds have become highly terrestrialised, resulting in major reductions in the diversity and abundance of aquatic plant and invertebrate assemblages. Recent research undertaken at farmland ponds in early summer, has shown restored open-canopy, macrophyte-dominated ponds support an increased abundance and diversity of farmland birds, compared to non-managed, overgrown ponds. Here, we expand on this previous research with a year-long field study to assess the implications of pond management for farmland birds by comparing bird diversity, abundance and activity at managed open-canopy ponds with those at unmanaged overgrown ponds. Driven strongly by pond management and connectivity to semi-natural landscape features such as hedgerows and woodland patches, bird abundance and species richness, as well as foraging and parental behaviour, were all significantly higher at managed open-canopy ponds. Further, a wider landscape analysis found that terrestrial land-use patterns in the vicinity of the ponds were not significant predictors of bird communities at the pond sites. In light of the numerous potential benefits to conservation-listed birds and other wildlife, we conclude that farmland pond management has been undervalued as a conservation measure to assist farmland birds. Consequently, we conclude that future agri-environment schemes, should more fully embrace farmland ponds.

Type: Article
Title: Pond management enhances the local abundance and species richness of farmland bird communities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.015
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.015
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Agriculture, Multidisciplinary, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Agriculture, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Aquatic habitat restoration, Biodiversity conservation, Bird behaviour, Invertebrates, Trophic links, LONG POINT, LAKE-ERIE, BIODIVERSITY, CONSERVATION, DIVERSITY, BRITAIN, FOOD, MACROINVERTEBRATE, POPULATIONS, MACROPHYTES
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076081
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