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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effect of predator control on nest survival of skylarks Alauda arvensis breeding on farmland in north Norfolk, England

Published source details

Donald P.F., Evans A.D., Muirhead L.B., Buckingham D.L., Kirby W.B. & Schmitt S.I.A. (2002) Survival rates, causes of failure and productivity of skylark Alauda arvensis nests on lowland farmland. Ibis, 144, 652-664


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Control predatory mammals and birds (foxes, crows, stoats and weasels) Farmland Conservation

A before-and-after study between 1996 and 1998 at a farmland site in eastern England (Donald et al. 2002) found that daily survival rates of Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis nests in non-rotational set-aside were significantly higher (96% daily survival for 168 nests) following the introduction of intensive control of mammalian predators than when predator control was either ‘light’ (95.6% survival for 51 nests) or absent (91% survival for 192 nests). There was no significant difference between light control and no control. These differences resulted in average overall survival rates of 41%, 23% and 12% for heavy, light and no control, respectively. The main species targeted were mustelids (Mustelidae), hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus and red foxes Vulpes vulpes.

 

Control predators not on islands for songbirds Bird Conservation

A before-and-after study between 1996 and 1998 at a farmland site in eastern England (Donald et al. 2002) found that daily survival rates of Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis nests in non-rotational set-aside areas were significantly higher (96% daily survival for 168 nests) following the introduction of intensive control of mammalian predators than when predator control was either ‘light’ (95.6% survival for 51 nests) or absent (91% survival for 192 nests). There was no significant difference between light control and no control. These differences resulted in average overall survival rates of 40.7%, 23.3% and 12.3% for heavy, light and no control, respectively. The main species targeted were mustelids, hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus and red foxes Vulpes vulpes. This study also discusses the impact of set-aside plots, described in ‘Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland’.

 

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1996-98 on 22 farms in southern England (Donald et al. 2002) found that skylark nests had significantly lower survival in set-aside, compared to in cereals (22% overall survival for 525 nests in set-aside vs. 38% survival for 183 nests in cereal fields). There were no differences between set-aside and other crop types (19% survival for 173 nests in grass fields, 29% survival for 60 nests in other field types) or between rotational and non-rotational set-aside. On one intensively-studied farm, over 90% of 422 skylark nests were found on ten fields of well-established, non-rotational set-aside. This study also describes the impact of predator control on skylark nest survival, discussed in ‘Control predators not on islands ‘.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison in 1996-1998 on 22 farms in southern England (Donald et al. 2002) found that skylark Alauda arvensis nests had significantly lower survival in set-aside, compared to in cereals (22% overall survival for 525 nests in set-aside vs 38% survival for 183 nests in cereal fields). There were no differences between set-aside and other crop types (19% survival for 173 nests in grass fields, 29% survival for 60 nests in other field types) or between rotational and non-rotational set-aside. On one intensively-studied farm, over 90% of 422 skylark nests were found on ten fields of well-established, non-rotational set-aside.