Study

Mammals, agri-environment schemes and set-aside - what are the putative benefits?

  • Published source details Macdonald D.W., Tattersall F.H., Service K.M., Firbank L.G. & Feber R.E. (2007) Mammals, agri-environment schemes and set-aside - what are the putative benefits?. Mammal Review, 37, 259-277.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce pesticide or fertilizer use

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Reduce pesticide or fertilizer use

     A site comparison study in 1994–1996 on arable land in Gloucestershire, UK (Macdonald et al. 2007) found that reducing pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer use by farming organically was associated with higher numbers of wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus. More wood mice were caught on an organic farm (monthly averages of 19–24 individuals) than on a conventional farm (8–17 individuals). This result was not tested for statistical significance, though there were significantly more juvenile mice on the organic farm compared to the conventional farm and female mice on the organic farm were significantly heavier in two out of three years (data not presented). On one organic farm and one conventional farm, wood mice were surveyed using 56 Longworth live traps in each of two fields, at each farm, each year, in 1994–1996.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  2. Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

    A review of the effects of agri-environment scheme options and set-aside on small mammals in the UK (Macdonald et al. 2007) found that results tended to depend on the management of set-aside.  Studies have found that after harvest wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus avoided cut set-aside and crops and preferred uncut set-aside and hedge (Tattersall et al. 2001); that wood mice tended to avoid set-aside land relative to crop and hedgerow habitats (Tattersall & Macdonald 2003); that wood mice used set-aside with species-rich mixes of grasses and native forbs more, and tended to avoid set-aside established using a simple grass/clover mix (Tattersall et al. 1999a) and that set-aside established as margins next to hedgerow had a more abundant and diverse small mammal community than larger blocks (Tattersall et al., 1999b).  Although small mammal abundance did not increase as set-aside aged, a study found that species composition changed and species diversity and species richness increased (Tattersall et al. 2000).

    Additional references:

    Tattersall F.H., Avundo A.E., Manley W.J., Hart B.J. & Macdonald, D.W. (2000) Managing set-aside for field voles (Microtus agrestis). Biological Conservation, 96, 123–128.

    Tattersall F.H. & Macdonald D.W. (2003) Wood mice in the arable ecosystem. Pages 82–96 in: F.H. Tattsersall & W.J. Manley (eds.) Conservation and Conflict: Mammals and Farming in Britain. Linnean Society Occasional Publications, Westbury Publishing, West Yorkshire, UK.

  3. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A 2007 literature review of the effects of agri-environment scheme options on small mammals in the UK (Macdonald et al. 2007) identified three studies that found small mammal abundance tended to be higher in grass margins compared to cropped fields (Brown 1999, Macdonald et al. 2000, Shore et al. 2005). One study (Shore et al. 2005) also found that wider grass margins had highest numbers of bank voles Myodes glareolus.

    Additional references:

    Macdonald, D.W., Tew, T.E., Todd, I.A., Garner, J.P. & Johnson, P.J. (2000) Arable habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) 3. A farm-scale experiment on the effects of crop rotation. Journal of Zoology, 250, 313–320.

  4. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A review of the effects of agri-environment scheme options on small mammals in the UK (Macdonald et al. 2007) found one study that reported that 12 radio-tracked wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus preferred unsprayed and conservation headlands (sprayed only with herbicides to control grasses) over sprayed headlands and mid-fields (Tew et al. 1992). Another study found that conservation headlands have higher abundances of insects and arable weeds, both of which are eaten by wood mice (Sotherton 1991).

     

Output references
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