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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The effect of crop type on breeding sucess of skylarks Alauda arvensis nesting on arable farmland in Dorset and Hampshire, England

Published source details

Poulsen J.G., Sotherton N.W. & Aebischer N.J. (1998) Comparative nesting and feeding ecology of skylarks Alauda arvensis on arable farmland in southern England with special reference to set-aside. Journal of Applied Ecology, 35, 131-147


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 site comparison in April to August 1992 on three farms in south England (Poulsen et al. 1998) found that skylarks had significantly higher productivity in set-aside fields, compared to spring-sown cereals or grass (0.5 fledglings/ha in set-aside vs. 0.21 fledglings/ha in spring cereals and 0.1 fledglings/ha in silage grass). This difference was largely due to higher densities of territories (2-3 times higher in set-aside and grass, compared to cereals) and more successful nests (highest on grass, but twice as high in set-aside as in cereal crops) and larger clutches in set-aside (3.9 eggs/clutch for nests in set-aside vs. 3.3 eggs/clutch for spring cereals and 3.4 eggs/clutch in grass, eleven nests in each habitat type). Fledging success did not vary between habitats. No nests with chicks were found in winter-sown cereals. Set-aside consisted of four year-old permanent fallow sown with red fescue Festuca rubra, perenial rye-grass Lolium perenne and white clover Trifolium pratense.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A site comparison study from April to August 1992 on three farms in south England (Poulsen et al. 1998) found that skylarks Alauda arvensis had significantly higher productivity in set-aside fields, compared to spring-sown cereals or grass (0.5 fledglings/ha in set-aside vs 0.21 fledglings/ha in spring cereals and 0.13 fledglings/ha in silage grass). This difference was largely due to higher densities of territories (2-3 times higher in set-aside and grass, compared to cereals), more successful nests (highest on grass, but twice as high in set-aside as in cereal crops) and larger clutches in set-aside (3.9 eggs/clutch for nests in set-aside vs 3.3 eggs/clutch for spring cereals and 3.4 eggs/clutch in grass, eleven nests in each habitat type). Fledging success did not vary between habitats. No nests with chicks were found in winter-sown cereals. Set-aside consisted of 4-year-old permanent fallow sown with red fescue Festuca rubra, perenial ryegrass Lolium perenne and white clover Trifolium pratense.