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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Set-aside fields in east Scotland have higher densities and more species of birds than non-set aside fields

Published source details

Watson A. & Rae R. (1997) Some effects of set-aside on breeding birds in northeast Scotland. Bird Study, 44, 245-245


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 Bird Conservation

A replicated, paired sites study on seven pairs of fields in northeast Scotland in 1989-91 (Watson & Rae 1997) found that one-year-old set-aside fields held significantly more species of bird than similar, non-set-aside fields (average of 12 species/10 ha for first year set-aside vs. 5 species/10 ha for ‘control’ fields). There were no differences in the years before or after set-aside. In addition, there were higher breeding densities of grey partridge Perdix perdix, Eurasian skylark and Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata in set-aside compared with ‘control’ fields. Densities of curlew, partridge, northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus were higher in set-aside years than before set-aside (songbird densities were not recorded before set-aside was used). Wader breeding success appeared higher on set-aside, but numbers were too small for statistical tests. The densities and number of species declined over time in set-aside fields. Set-aside fields were previously arable fields but were not cropped for at least one year.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A replicated, paired sites before-and-after study on seven pairs of fields in northeast Scotland in 1989-1991 (Watson & Rae 1997) found that 1-year-old set-aside fields held significantly more species of bird than similar, non-set-aside fields (average of 11.9 species/10 ha for first year set-aside vs 4.8 species/10 ha for control fields). There were no differences in the years before or after set-aside. In addition, there were higher breeding densities of grey partridge Perdix perdix, skylark Alauda arvensis and Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata in set-aside compared with control fields. Densities of curlew, partridge, northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus were higher in set-aside years than before set-aside (passerine densities were not recorded before set-aside was used). Wader breeding success appeared higher on set-aside, but numbers were too small for statistical tests. The densities and number of species declined over time in set-aside fields. Set-aside fields were previously arable fields but were not cropped for at least one year.