Study

Mammals and agri-environment schemes: hare haven or pest paradise?

  • Published source details Reid N., McDonald R.A. & Montgomery W.I. (2007) Mammals and agri-environment schemes: hare haven or pest paradise? Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 1200-1208

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant new or maintain existing hedgerows on farmland

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant new or maintain existing hedgerows on farmland

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2005 on 200 plots covering a range of agricultural habitats in Northern Ireland, UK (Reid et al. 2007) found that retaining and enhancing field boundaries, such as hedgerows and banks, as part of a wider suite of agri-environment measures, did not increase numbers of Irish hares Lepus timidus hibernicus. The effects of retaining and enhancing field boundaries cannot be separated from those of other agri-environment measures, which included reducing grazing intensity and managing nutrient systems. Hare abundance in agri-environment plots (0.45 hares/km transect) did not significantly differ from that in non-agri-environment plots (0.41 hares/km transect). One hundred and fifty 1-km2 plots, on land enrolled into an agri-environment scheme 10–17 years previously, were selected along with 50 non-enrolled 1-km2 plots, chosen to match enrolled plots for landscape characteristics. Hares were surveyed at night, in mid-winter, by spotlighting from a vehicle.

  2. Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2005 on 200 plots covering a range of agricultural habitats in Northern Ireland, UK (Reid et al. 2007) found that retaining and enhancing field boundaries, reducing grazing intensity and managing nutrient systems through enrolment in an agri-environment scheme did not increase numbers of Irish hares Lepus timidus hibernicus. Hare abundance in agri-environment plots (0.45 hares/km transect) did not significantly differ from that in non-agri-environment plots (0.41 hares/km transect). One hundred and fifty 1-km2 plots, on land that was enrolled into an agri-environment scheme 10–17 years previously, were selected along with 50 non-enrolled 1-km2 plots, chosen to match enrolled plots for landscape characteristics. Hares were surveyed at night, in mid-winter, by spotlighting from a vehicle.

  3. Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2005 on 200 plots covering a range of agricultural habitats in Northern Ireland, UK (Reid et al. 2007) found that reducing grazing intensity as part of a wider suite of agri-environment measures did not increase numbers of Irish hares Lepus timidus hibernicus. The effects of reducing grazing intensity cannot be separated from those of other agri-environment measures, which included retaining and enhancing field boundary features and managing nutrient systems. Hare abundance in agri-environment plots (0.45 hares/km transect) did not significantly differ from that in non-agri-environment plots (0.41 hares/km transect). One hundred and fifty 1-km2 plots, on land that was enrolled into an agri-environment scheme 10–17 years previously, were selected along with 50 non-enrolled 1-km2 plots, chosen to match enrolled plots for landscape characteristics. Hares were surveyed at night, in mid-winter, by spotlighting from a vehicle.

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

    A replicated site comparison study in Northern Ireland (Reid et al. 2007) found that areas with agreements under the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme did not have more Irish hares Lepus timidus hibernicus than areas outside the scheme (around 0.4 Irish hares/km on average). Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus and red foxes Vulpes vulpes were more abundant in Environmentally Sensitive Areas (around 2 rabbits and 0.5 foxes/km on average) than in non-Environmentally Sensitive Areas (around 1 rabbit and 0.2 foxes/km on average), both species are considered pests on farmland. One-hundred-and-fifty 1 km2 were randomly selected from within Northern Ireland’s five Environmentally Sensitive Areas. A sample of 50 non-Environmentally Sensitive Area squares were matched for land use, altitude, road type and distance from the Environmentally Sensitive Area boundary. Mammals were surveyed by spotlight on night drives in mid-winter 2005, on both sides of 1 km of road bisecting each survey square. Irish hares, rabbits and red foxes were counted.

     

Output references

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