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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Brown hare and grey partridge numbers do not vary significantly between 1998 and 2002 across either ASPS or non-ASPS farmland.

Published source details

Browne S. & Aebischer N. (2003) Arable stewardship: impact of the pilot scheme on grey partridge and brown hare after five years.Final Report to DEFRA (Contract ref RMP1870vs3). DEFRA report.


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

Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, controlled study, in 1998–2002, on 71 arable farms in two UK regions (Browne & Aebischer 2003) found that increased semi-natural habitat cover through enrolment in an agri-environment scheme was associated with increases in brown hare Lepus europaeus density in one region but not another. In East Anglia, brown hare density on farms enrolled in the scheme increased by 35% from 1998–2003, compared to an 18% decline on non-enrolled farms. In the West Midlands, hare density changes from 1998–2003 did not differ significantly between farm types (enrolled farms: decline of 10.8%; non-enrolled farms: increase of 3.6%). Seventy-one farms were surveyed, 19 enrolled and 18 not enrolled in an agri-environment scheme in East Anglia and 19 enrolled and 15 not enrolled in West Midlands. The scheme (Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme) incentivised a range of measures which are not specified in the study, but appear to include increasing woodland and set-aside areas. Enrolled farms operated under the scheme from 1998 onwards. Hares were surveyed from November–February in 1998–1999 and 2002–2003 by spotlighting after dark from a vehicle. Usually, ≥20 fields/farm were counted (≥30% of the farm area).

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Increase the proportion of natural/semi-natural vegetation in the farmed landscape Bird Conservation

A small 2003 site comparison study of 20 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Browne & Aebischer 2003), found that the intentional creation of wildlife habitat had no discernable effect on autumn grey partridge Perdix perdix densities. The change in partridge densities from 1998 to 2002 on farms with habitat creation (-32% and -1%, respectively) was not statistically different from farms without habitat creation (-51% and -28%, respectively). Surveys of grey partridge were made once each autumn in 1998 and 2002 on 20 farms: 12 farms that created wildlife habitat and 8 farms which did not.

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

A 2003 replicated site comparison study of 76 farms in East Anglia, UK, and the West Midlands (Browne & Aebischer 2003) found that autumn densities of grey partridges fell across both Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme and non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms from 1998 (when Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme was introduced) to 2002. In East Anglia densities fell 68% on non-ASPS farms (5.5 to 1.8 birds/km²) and 21% on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (9.6 to 7.6 birds/km²); in the West Midlands densities fell 40% on non-ASPS farms (1.4 to 0.8 birds/km²) and 78% on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (3.0 to 0.8 birds/km²). In East Anglia, however, the young-to-old ratio doubled on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme plots from 1998 to 2002 (1 to 2 young : adult birds), whereas on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms the ratio fell by more than 50% (1.2 to 0.5 young : adult birds), indicating that the change in productivity on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms was twice that on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms. Surveys of grey partridge were made once each autumn in 1998 and 2002 on 76 farms: 20 ASPS and 19 non-ASPS farms in East Anglia and 20 Arable Stewardship Pilot Schemes and 17 non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms in the West Midlands.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated 2003 site comparison study of 88 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands (Browne & Aebischer 2003) found that between 1998 and 2002 there was no difference in the decrease in autumn densities of grey partridge on farms that planted wild bird cover mixtures and farms that did not. Surveys for grey partridge were made once each autumn in 1998 and 2002 on 88 farms: 38 farms that planted wild bird cover and 50 farms that did not.

 

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

A replicated site comparison study of 71-76 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Browne & Aebischer 2003) found no consistent difference in the change in the number of brown hare Lepus europaeus and grey partridge Perdix perdix between 1998 and 2002 across either Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farmland or non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farmland. In East Anglia the density of brown hares increased on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (from 16.2 to 20.0 hares/km²), but not on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farmland (12.1 hares/km² in both 1998 and 2002). In the West Midlands hare densities fell slightly on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme plots (from 4.9 to 4.3 hares/km²) but not on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme plots (3.5 hares/km² in both survey years). In East Anglia grey partridge densities fell by 21% on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (9.6 to 7.6 birds/km²) and 68% on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (5.5 to 1.8 birds/km²), whereas in the West Midlands grey partridge densities fell by 78% on Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (3.0 to 0.8 birds/km²) and 40% on non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms (1.4 to 0.8 birds/km²). Following the introduction of the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme in 1998, hare density data was collected after dark in the winters of 1998-1999 and 2002-2003 from 19 Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme and 18 non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms in East Anglia and 19 Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme and 15 non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms in the West Midlands. Surveys of grey partridge were made once each autumn in 1998 and 2002 on 76 farms: 20 Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme and 19 non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms in East Anglia and 20 Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme and 17 non-Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme farms in the West Midlands. This study was part of the same monitoring project as (Bradbury & Allen 2003, Bradbury et al. 2004, Stevens & Bradbury 2006).

 

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison study of 88 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Browne & Aebischer 2003) found that between 1998 and 2002 there was no difference in the decrease in autumn densities of grey partridge Perdix perdix on farms that planted wild bird cover mixtures and farms that did not. Surveys for grey partridge were made once each autumn in 1998 and 2002 on 88 farms: 38 farms that planted wild bird cover and 50 farms that did not.