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Contribution of pond management to local bird abundance and diversity on farms in lowland England

Lewis-Phillips, Jonathan William Pryce; (2020) Contribution of pond management to local bird abundance and diversity on farms in lowland England. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Since the 1970s, declines in UK farmland bird populations have been experienced, with agricultural intensification identified as a key driver. Agri- environment schemes have failed to reverse these declines, principally due to a mismatch between measures adopted and local biodiversity requirements. Despite the proven potential of open-canopy ponds to support a wide range of species, the majority of the UK’s lowland agricultural ponds are highly terrestrialised. The restoration of overgrown pond sites has been shown to increase aquatic invertebrate and macrophyte diversity, with a preliminary study also demonstrating benefits of pond management for UK farmland birds. This thesis aims to expand on this research, investigating whether and how farmland pond management contributes towards supporting local birds over annual and seasonal periods, in combination with an analysis of the influence of pond margin and wider landscape on farmland birds. Further, pond-margin and emergent aquatic insect communities are investigated as potential key drivers of bird visits. Driven strongly by pond management and connectivity to semi-natural landscape features, bird abundance and species richness were significantly higher at managed open-canopy ponds over all seasons. The importance of in-pond and surrounding margin habitat variables in predicting birds varied over the seasons, while wider land-use patterns were not found to besignificant predictors of bird communities at the pond sites. Bird communities displayed more pronounced seasonal shifts in composition at managed open- canopy ponds, with warblers and other specialised bird species frequently recorded over the breeding and post-breeding seasons but largely absent from overgrown ponds. Significant differences between pond management types in emergent aquatic insect communities, but not pond-margin associated invertebrate communities, are identified as a key driver of bird visits to farmland ponds. This thesis shows that pond management offers significant potential to benefit local farmland birds alongside providing valuable insights for the design of future agri-environment prescriptions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Contribution of pond management to local bird abundance and diversity on farms in lowland England
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087731
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