Create uncultivated margins around arable or pasture fields

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of creating uncultivated margins around arable or pasture fields on reptile populations. One study was in Australia and one was in the UK.


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): One replicated, site comparison study in Australia found that revegetated linear strips had similar reptile species richness compared to cleared and remnant strips. The study also found that revegetated strips and patches had similar reptile species richness.


  • Abundance (1 study): One replicated, site comparison study in Australia found that revegetated linear strips had similar reptile abundance compared to cleared and remnant strips. The study also found that revegetated strips and patches had similar reptile abundance.


  • Use (1 study): One replicated study in the UK found that uncultivated field margins were used by slow worms, common lizards and grass snakes, but not by adders.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, site comparison study in 2008–2009 on agricultural land in Victoria, Australia (Jellineck et al. 2014) found that revegetating linear habitat strips did not increase reptile species richness and abundance compared to cleared or remnant strips of habitat, nor was there a difference between revegetating in strips or patches. Revegetated linear strips had similar reptile richness and abundance (richness: 0.1–0.5 species/strip, abundance: 0.1–0.4 individuals/strip) compared to cleared (0.2–0.3, 0.3–0.4) and remnant strips (0.4–0.5, 0.3–0.5). Revegetated linear strips also had similar richness and abundances to revegetated patches (data not reported). Reptiles were monitored in five locations in each of two regions on or bordering agricultural land. Drift fences with pitfall traps were set out in sites classified as: revegetated linear strip (using native plants 8–14 years before), cleared linear strip, remnant linear strip, and remnant patches (10 traps/site). Surveys were carried out for five consecutive days/month in January–March 2008 and 2009. Remnant patches and enlarged remnant patches revegetated with native vegetation were also surveyed in five different locations in the same two regions using the same methods.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated study in 2014–2015 on 14 farms in the UK (Salazar et al. 2016) found that uncultivated field margins were used by slow worms Anguis fragilis, common lizards Zootoca vivipara and grass snakes Natrix Helvetica but not by adders Vipera berus. From two separate surveys, uncultivated margins were occupied by slow worms (occupied 8% and 14% of surveyed margins), common lizards (occupied 5% and 32% of surveyed margins) and grass snakes (occupied 45% and 49% of surveyed margins), but adders were not found in any margins. One analysis method showed that slow worms and grass snakes were found less frequently in margins with taller vegetation, and common lizards were found more frequently in wider margins with deeper ditches (presented as model result; see paper for more details). In 2014, ten farms were selected and eight 100 m transects were established in uncultivated field margins on each farm (south, east or facing margins only). In 2015, a total of 80 transects (100m) were established on margins across six farms (facing any direction). Five groups of 2–3 refuges (roofing felt/corrugated sheets and carpet tiles; 50 x 50 cm) were set at 20 m intervals along the transects. Transects were searched 12–15 times in 2014 and 6–10 times in 2015 during April–November. Presence or absence of reptiles was recorded.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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