Study

Enhancing invertebrate food resources for skylarks in cereal ecosystems: how useful are in-crop agri-environment scheme management options?

  • Published source details Smith B., Holland J., Jones N., Moreby S., Morris A.J. & Southway S. (2009) Enhancing invertebrate food resources for skylarks in cereal ecosystems: how useful are in-crop agri-environment scheme management options? Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 692-702

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant cereals in wide-spaced rows

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant cereals in wide-spaced rows

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Create skylark plots

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant cereals in wide-spaced rows

    A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002-3 in 30 treatment and 30 control fields of winter wheat in northern and eastern England, UK (Smith et al. 2009) found no difference in faecal content of Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis nestlings in fields with wide-spaced rows, compared to control fields.

     

  2. Plant cereals in wide-spaced rows

    A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002 and 2003 on 10 sites in northern and eastern England (Smith et al. 2009) found that invertebrate abundance in wide-spaced row fields was not significantly different from conventional (control) winter wheat fields. In 2002, wide-spaced row fields contained an average of 6.0 invertebrate species/pitfall trap compared to 6.4 in control fields. Both grass and broadleaved vegetation cover had a negative relationship with wide-spaced row fields. There were no significant differences in skylark Alauda arvensis faecal content between nestlings in treatment or control fields. The authors suggest that the value of wide-spaced row fields for skylarks lies in increased access to other food resources. There were three treatments at each site: wide-spaced rows sown at double the normal width (25 cm between rows) but with the same seed rate as control fields, control fields (12.5 cm between rows), and undrilled patches (4 x 4 m) with a density of 2 patches/ha. This study was part of the same replicated, controlled study (SAFFIE – Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment) as (Morris et al. 2004, Ogilvy et al. 2006, Smith & Jones 2007).

  3. Create skylark plots

    A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002 and 2003 on 10 farms in northern and eastern England (Smith et al. 2009) found that invertebrate abundance in undrilled patch fields was not significantly different from conventional (control) winter wheat fields. In 2002, mean invertebrate species richness in undrilled patch fields was 9.8 compared to 6.4 in control fields. There were no significant differences in 2003, possibly because weed cover was 50% lower than 2002. Within undrilled patch fields, rove beetle (Staphylinidae) abundance and species richness was higher in crop areas while money spider (Lycosidae) and herbivorous invertebrate species were more abundant in the undrilled patches. There were no significant differences in faecal content between Eurasian skylark nestlings in treatment or control fields. The authors suggest that a critical threshold of weedy cover must be reached before any significant effect on invertebrates is detected. Three treatments were established on each farm: undrilled patches (4 x 4 m) with a density of 2 patches/ha, winter wheat sown in wide-spaced rows (25 cm apart) and conventional control winter wheat fields. Invertebrates were sampled using vacuum sampling (May, June, July) and pitfall traps (June). Plants were surveyed in twenty-four 0.25 m2 quadrats in May and July. Skylark droppings were collected from nestlings, fledglings and adults for faecal analysis, April-September 2002-2003. This study was part of the same replicated, controlled study (SAFFIE – Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment) as Morris et al. 2004, Ogilvy et al. 2006, Smith & Jones 2007.

Output references

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