Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Assessing the impact of Entry Level Stewardship on lowland farmland birds in England

Published source details

Davey C.M., Vickery J.A., Boatman N.D., Chamberlain D.E., Parry H.R. & Siriwardena G.M. (2010) Assessing the impact of Entry Level Stewardship on lowland farmland birds in England. Ibis, 152, 459-474


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

Manage ditches to benefit wildlife Bird Conservation

A replicated 2010 site comparison study (Davey et al. 2010) of the same 2,046, 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England as in (Davey et al. 2010) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Entry Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship Schemes, there was no consistent association between the length of ditches managed according to the agri-environment scheme on a plot and farmland bird numbers. Although there were higher numbers of linnet Carduelis cannabina and reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus (two species known to nest in vegetation at the side of ditches) in plots with ditches managed according to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship than in other plots, this difference was not observed for other species also expected to benefit from ditch management, including the yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and yellow wagtail Motacilla flava. Between 2005 and 2008, skylark Alauda arvensis and grey partridge Perdix perdix declines were greater in plots with lengths of ditch management than other plots. For example, grey partridges showed decreases of 1.3 birds for each 0.08 km of ditch on pastoral farmland. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Schemes. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

Manage hedges to benefit birds Bird Conservation

A replicated 2010 site comparison study of 2,046 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship schemes, there was no association between the length of hedgerow managed according to the agri-environment scheme and farmland bird numbers. Hedgerow specialist species, including the yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and common whitethroat, showed no significant population response, whereas there were greater numbers of common starling Sturnus vulgaris on arable, pastoral and mixed farmland with hedgerow management. For example, in mixed farmland plots starling populations increased by 0.2 individuals for each 1 km of hedgerow. On the other hand, the grey partridge Perdix perdix appeared to be detrimentally affected, with an apparent decline of 0.3 individuals for every 1.1 km of hedgerow managed according to the agri-environment schemes. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the schemes. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields for birds Bird Conservation

A large 2010 site comparison study of 2,046 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship schemes, there was no consistent association between the provision of uncultivated field margins on arable or pastoral farmland and farmland bird numbers. Although plots with field margins did see more positive population changes (increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) of rook Corvus frugilegus, starling Sturnus vulgaris and woodpigeon Columba palumbus, the effect was small, with starlings, for example, showing increases of only 0.0002 individuals for every 0.001 km² of margin in mixed farmland plots. Other species expected to benefit from margin provision including corn bunting Emberiza calandra, grey partridge Perdix perdix, kestrel Falco tinnunculus, jackdaw Corvus monedula, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, and common whitethroat Sylvia communis all showed no effect of margin management. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, also expected to benefit from margin creation, showed a positive association in mixed landscapes and a negative association on grassland plots. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² plot.

 

Manage ditches to benefit wildlife Farmland Conservation

A large site comparison study of 2,046, 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010b) (same study as (Davey et al. 2010a, Davey et al. 2010c)) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship Scheme, there was no consistent association between the length of ditches managed according to the agri-environment scheme on a plot and farmland bird numbers. There were higher numbers of linnet Carduelis cannabina and reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, which are known to nest in ditch bank vegetation, in plots with ditches managed according to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship compared to other plots. However, this difference was not observed for other species also expected to benefit from ditch management, including yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and yellow wagtail Motacilla flava. Between 2005 and 2008, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis and grey partridge Perdix perdix declines were greater in plots with lengths of ditch management than other plots. For example, grey partridges showed decreases of 1.3 birds for each 0.08 km of ditch on pastoral farmland. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to Entry Level Stewardship or the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Bird Conservation

A large 2010 site comparison study of the same 2,046 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England as in (Davey et al. 2010), Davey et al. (2010) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship schemes, there was no consistent association between the provision of stubbles and farmland bird numbers. Grey partridge Perdix perdix and tree sparrow Passer montanus were the only two species that showed more positive population change (population increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) from 2005 to 2008 in the 9 km² and 25 km² areas immediately surrounding plots planted with stubble than in the area surrounding plots without stubbles. The effect of stubbles was small, however, with tree sparrow numbers increasing by 0.05 at the 9 km² scale for each 0.07 km² of stubble and by 0.07 at the 25 km scale for each 0.14 km² of stubble. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Farmland Conservation

A large replicated site comparison study in 2005 and 2008 of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010b) (same study as (Davey et al. 2010a)) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship schemes and Entry Level Stewardship schemes, there was no consistent association between the provision of stubbles and farmland bird numbers. Grey partridge Perdix perdix and tree sparrow Passer montanus were the only two species that showed more positive population change (population increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) from 2005 to 2008 in the 9 km² and 25 km² areas immediately surrounding plots planted with stubble than in the area surrounding plots without stubbles. The effect of stubbles was small, however, with tree sparrow numbers increasing by 0.05 at the 9 km² scale for every 0.07 km² of stubble and by 0.07 at the 25 km scale for every 0.14 km² of stubble. The 2,046, 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to Entry Level Stewardship or the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying) Farmland Conservation

A 2010 site comparison study of 2,046 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010b) (same study as Davey et al. 2010a) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship and Entry Level Stewardship schemes, there was no association between the length of hedgerow managed according to the agri-environment scheme and farmland bird numbers. Hedgerow specialist species, including the yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and common whitethroat Sylvia communis, showed no significant population response, whereas there were greater numbers of starling on arable, pastoral and mixed farmland with hedgerow management. For example, in mixed farmland plots starling populations increased by 0.2 individuals for each 1 km of hedgerow. On the other hand, grey partridge Perdix perdix appeared to be detrimentally affected, with an apparent decline of 0.3 individuals for every 1.1 km of hedgerow managed according to the agri-environment schemes. The 2046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

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

A large 2010 site comparison study of 2,046, 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010) found that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship schemes had no consistent effect on farmland bird numbers three years after their introduction in 2005. Between 2005 and 2008 eight Farmland Bird Index species showed significant declines on arable plots, nine species declined significantly on pastoral plots and six species declined on mixed farmland squares (farmland plots covered with less than 50% arable and less than 50% pastoral farming). Only goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, jackdaw Corvus mondedula and woodpigeon showed population increases between 2005 and 2008. Although certain farmland bird species did show landscape-specific effects, there were no consistent relationships between farmland bird numbers and whether or not the plots contained Entry Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship Scheme land, or the financial cost of the agri-environment interventions, or the length of hedgerows or ditches under an agri-environment scheme, or the availability of wild bird seed mix and over-winter stubbles (i.e. some species showed increases in response to a particular intervention on a particular landscape-type but not on other landscape-types, and these changes were not consistent between species). The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1km² square.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated 2010 site comparison study of 2,046 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of the two agri-environment schemes, Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmental Stewardship, there was no consistent association between the provision of wild bird cover and farmland bird numbers. European greenfinch, stock dove Columba oenas, starling Sturnus vulgaris and woodpigeon Columba palumbus showed more positive population change (population increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) in the 9 km² and 25 km² areas immediately surrounding plots planted with wild bird cover mix than in the area surrounding plots not planted with wildlife seed mixture. Although Eurasian linnet and rook also showed positive associations with wild bird cover mix at the 25 km² scale, plots with wild bird cover were associated with a greater decline in grey partridge populations at both scales between 2005 and 2008. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or CSS. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison study in 2005 and 2008 of 2,046, 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010b) (same study as (Davey et al. 2010a)) found that three years after the 2005 introduction of two agri-environment schemes, Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship, there was no consistent association between the provision of wild bird cover and farmland bird numbers. European greenfinch Carduelis chloris, stock dove Columba oenas, starling Sturnus vulgaris and woodpigeon Columba palumbus showed more positive population change (population increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) in the 9 km² and 25 km² areas immediately surrounding plots planted with wild bird cover mix than in the area surrounding plots not planted with wildlife seed mixture. Although Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina and rook Corvus frugilegus also showed positive associations with wild bird cover mix at the 25 km² scale, plots with wild bird cover were associated with a greater decline in grey partridge Perdix perdix populations at both scales between 2005 and 2008. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to Entry Level Stewardship or the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

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

A large site comparison study in 2005 and 2008 of 2,046, 1 km² plots of lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010b) (same study as (Davey et al. 2010a)) found that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship schemes had no consistent effect on farmland bird numbers three years after their introduction in 2005. Between 2005 and 2008, eight Farmland Bird Index species showed significant declines on arable plots, nine species declined significantly on pastoral plots and six species declined on mixed farmland squares (farmland plots covered with less than 50% arable and less than 50% pastoral farming). Only goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, jackdaw Corvus monedula, and woodpigeon Columba palumbus showed population increases between 2005 and 2008. Although certain farmland bird species did show landscape-specific effects, there were no consistent relationships between farmland bird numbers and whether or not the plots contained Entry Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship Scheme land, or the financial cost of the agri-environment interventions, or the length of hedgerows or ditches under an agri-environment scheme, or the availability of wild bird seed mix and overwinter stubbles (i.e. some species showed increases in response to a particular intervention on a particular landscape-type but not on other landscape-types, and these changes were not consistent between species). The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to the Entry Level Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Scheme. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square.

 

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated, site comparison study in 2010 on lowland farmland in England (Davey et al. 2010) found no consistent association between the provision of uncultivated field margins on arable or pastoral farmland and farmland bird numbers three years after the 2005 introduction of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Entry Level Stewardship agri-environment schemes. Although plots with field margins did see more positive population changes (increases or smaller decreases relative to other plots) of rook Corvus frugilegus, starling Sturnus vulgaris and woodpigeon Columba palumbus, the effect was small. For example, starlings showed increases of only 0.0002 individuals for every 0.001 km² of margin in mixed farmland plots. Other species expected to benefit from margin provision including corn bunting Emberiza calandra, grey partridge Perdix perdix, kestrel Falco tinnunculus, jackdaw Corvus monedula, reed bunting E. schoeniclus, and common whitethroat Sylvia communis showed no effect of margin management. Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella, which were also expected to benefit from margin creation, showed a positive association in mixed landscapes, but a negative association on grassland plots. The 2,046 1 km² lowland plots were surveyed in both 2005 and 2008 and classified as arable, pastoral or mixed farmland. Eighty-four percent of plots included some area managed according to Entry Level or Countryside Stewardship agri-environment schemes. In both survey years, two surveys were conducted along a 2 km pre-selected transect route through each 1 km² square, with all birds seen or heard recorded in distance bands.