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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Importance of ecological compensation areas for small mammals in intensively farmed areas

Published source details

Aschwanden J., Holzgang O. & Jenni L. (2007) Importance of ecological compensation areas for small mammals in intensively farmed areas. Wildlife Biology, 13, 150-158


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

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in the summer of 2003 in central Switzerland (Aschwanden et al. 2007) found that small mammal density was higher in herbaceous strips than in low-intensity meadows, conventionally farmed artificial grasslands and autumn-sown wheat fields. Small mammal species richness in herbaceous strips (six species) was higher than in any other studied habitat (two species each). The increase in small mammal density over the summer was higher in herbaceous strips and wild-flower strips than in the other three habitats. Herbaceous strips consisted mainly of herbaceous plants, such as thistles Cirsium spp., common teasel Dipsacus sylvestris, St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum, common mallow Malva sylvestris and mulleins Verbascum spp. On the 15 study sites, herbaceous strips and wild-flower strips were not regularly cut during the growing season, whereas other grassland habitats were cut at least twice. Small mammals were trapped and individually marked during 60 hour trapping sessions in March, May and July. Traps were checked every eight hours. A capture-recapture method was used to estimate small mammal densities.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in the summer of 2003 in central Switzerland (Aschwanden et al. 2007) found higher densities of small mammals (mainly common voles Microtus arvalis) in wildflower strips than in low-intensity meadows, conventionally farmed artificial grasslands and autumn-sown wheat fields. Small mammal species richness in wildflower strips was equal to that in conventionally farmed habitats and low-intensity meadows, but lower than in herbaceous strips. Over the summer, small mammal density increased most in the wildflower strips and herbaceous strips than in low-intensity meadows, conventionally farmed artificial grassland and autumn-sown wheat fields. Wildflower strips (fallows sown with seed mixtures of native plants) and herbaceous strips (consisting mainly of herbaceous plants such as thistles Cirsium spp., common teasel Dipsacus sylvestris, St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum, common mallow Malva sylvestris and mulleins Verbascum spp.) were not cut regularly during the growing season, whereas the other grassland habitats were cut at least twice. A capture-recapture method was used to estimate small mammal densities. Small mammals were trapped and individually marked during 60 hour trapping sessions in March, May and July.