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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual 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


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 Farmland Conservation

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.

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

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.

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

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).