Action: Create open patches or strips in permanent grassland
A randomised, replicated and controlled study from the UK found that more Eurasian skylarks used fields with open strips in, but that variations in skylark numbers were too great to draw conclusions from this finding.
Open patches and strips in permanent grassland can be used, in a similar way to skylark plots (see ‘Create skylark plots’) to provide short, open swards for ground-nesting birds.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomised, replicated and controlled trial on 14 fields in southern England in winter 1995-6 (Wakeham-Dawson & Aebischer 1998), found more Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis on seven fields that had open strips created in them, than in seven control fields, but the variation in numbers was so great that these differences were not significant (2-55 skylarks/km2 on treated fields vs. 0 on controls). Open strips were created in a grid pattern, 25 m apart, using a tine-cultivator in November 1995. Experimental fields were still significantly more open in May 1996, but the swards had closed entirely by February 1997. This study is also described in ‘Revert arable land to permanent grassland’ and ‘Habitat restoration and creation’.