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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Higher populations of waders in reserves and higher-tier ESA agreements in southern England

Published source details

Ausden M. & Hirons G.J.M. (2002) Grassland nature reserves for breeding wading birds in England and the implications for the ESA agri-environment scheme. Biological Conservation, 106, 279-291


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

Maintain traditional water meadows Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 19 nature reserves established across England between 1983 and 1999 (Ausden & Hirons 2002) found that the number of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and common redshank Tringa totanus on 13 nature reserves increased by 300% and 500% respectively in the first seven years following the initiation of management aimed at wading birds. Numbers then declined but were still higher than before the initiation of management. However, across all reserves, common snipe Gallinago gallinago declined, largely due to population collapses on reserves with mineral soils. Management included immediate changes to grazing (reduced during breeding seasons and adjusted to produce a favourable sward) and mowing (delayed until after nesting) and hydrological changes (raising water levels, surface flooding) introduced over two or more years. This study is also discussed in ‘Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures’ and ‘Legally protect habitats’.

 

Maintain traditional water meadows (includes management for breeding and/or wintering waders/waterfowl) Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 19 lowland wet grassland nature reserves established across England between 1983 and 1999 (Ausden & Hirons 2002) found that the number of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and common redshank Tringa totanus on 13 nature reserves increased by 300% and 500% respectively in the first seven years following the initiation of management aimed at wading birds. Numbers then declined but were still higher than before the initiation of management. However, across all reserves, common snipe Gallinago gallinago declined, largely due to population collapses on reserves with mineral soils. Management included immediate changes to grazing (reduced during breeding seasons and adjusted to produce a favourable sward) and mowing (delayed until after nesting) and hydrological changes (raising water levels, surface flooding) introduced over two or more years.

 

Legally protect habitats Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1997 in 19 nature reserves across England (Ausden & Hirons 2002) found that they held consistently higher densities of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, common redshank Tringa totanus and common snipe Gallinago gallinago than the non-reserve Environmentally Sensitive Areas (an agri-environment scheme designation) surrounding them (densities approximately 730% higher for lapwing, 520% higher for redshank and 1600% higher for snipe). In addition, population trends were generally positive in reserves (except for snipe), but negative outside them (lapwing: 0.9-7.4% annual increase inside reserves vs. 0.7-13% decline outside; redshank: 3.9-8.6% increase vs. 1.8-18.6% decrease; snipe: 6.1-16.8% decrease in reserves vs. 7.3-29.7% decrease outside). The authors note that snipe have declined by approximately 70% across all reserves, due mainly to declines at a single reserve with a large population and on reserves with mineral soils (i.e. those with little organic matter). However, declines outside reserves were considerably higher than those on reserves (20% vs. 10% annually). This study is discussed in detail in ‘Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures’ and ‘Maintain traditional water meadows’.

Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures Bird Conservation

A study in 1997 in two Environmentally Sensitive Areas in eastern England (Ausden & Hirons 2002) found that higher tier options (i.e. those with more demanding prescriptions but higher financial compensation) held significantly higher densities of wading birds (northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, common redshank Tringa totanus and common snipe Gallinago gallinago) than lower tiers (Tier 1: 0.02-0.04 pairs/ha; Tier 2: 0.07-0.22; Tier 3: 0.40). In addition, they held more waders for each unit of money spent on the Environmentally Sensitive Area (Tier 1: 18-46 pairs/£100,000; Tier 2: 29-114; Tier 3: 167). However, when examining 1988-1997 population trends in four Environmentally Sensitive Areas, the authors found all three species investigated declined significantly (lapwing: 0.7-13% decline each year; redshank: 1.8-18.6%; snipe: 7.3-29.7%). The impact of wetland protection and management on waders is discussed in ‘Maintain traditional water meadows’ and ‘Legally protect habitats’.

Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes) Farmland Conservation

A study in 1997 in two Environmentally Sensitive Areas in eastern England (Ausden & Hirons 2002) found that higher tier options (i.e. those with more demanding prescriptions but higher financial compensation) held significantly higher densities of wading birds (northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, common redshank Tringa totanus and common snipe Gallinago gallinago) than lower tiers (Tier 1: 0.02-0.04 pairs/ha; Tier 2: 0.07-0.22; Tier 3: 0.40). In addition, they held more waders for each unit of money spent on the Environmentally Sensitive Area (Tier 1: 18-46 pairs/£100,000; Tier 2: 29-114; Tier 3: 167). However, when examining 1988-1997 population trends in four Environmentally Sensitive Areas, the authors found all three species investigated declined significantly (lapwing: 1-13% decline each year, redshank: 2-19%, snipe: 7-30%).