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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Bird diversity and abundances are higher in set aside in Irish farms, compared with arable or grassland fields

Published source details

Bracken F. & Bolger T. (2006) Effects of set-aside management on birds breeding in lowland Ireland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 117, 178-184


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

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Bird Conservation

A replicated paired sites comparison in summer 2003 in County Laois and County Kildare, Ireland (Bracken & Bolger 2006), found that 18 set-aside fields had significantly higher avian species diversity and richness than 18 adjacent agricultural fields (an average of 13 species on set-aside vs. 9 species on farmed fields). Three species were significantly more abundant on set-aside and whilst six species showed a preference for non-set-aside fields, these preferences were not significant and the species (whitethroat Sylvia communis, goldcrest Regulus regulus, blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, stonechat Saxicola torquata, tree sparrow Passer montanus and treecreeper Certhia familiaris) were more likely to be selecting habitats based on field margins, rather than field management. Six species were associated with non-rotational set-aside; two with rotational set-aside; one with long-term grazed pasture set-aside and three with first year pasture set-aside.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, paired sites comparison in summer 2003 in County Laois and County Kildare, Ireland (Bracken & Bolger 2006) found that 18 set-aside fields had significantly higher bird species diversity and richness than 18 adjacent agricultural fields (an average of 12.8 species on set-aside vs 9.2 species on control fields). Three species - meadow pipit Anthus pratensis, skylark Alauda arvensis and woodpigeon Columba palumbus - were significantly more abundant on set-aside. Six species (whitethroat Sylvia communis, goldcrest Regulus regulus, blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, stonechat Saxicola torquata, tree sparrow Passer montanus and treecreeper Certhia familiaris) showed a preference for non-set-aside fields, but these were not statistically significant and were considered likely to be based on field margins, rather than field management. Six species were associated with non-rotational set-aside, two with rotational set-aside, one with long-term grazed pasture set-aside and three with first year pasture set-aside.