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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Bat activity and species richness on organic and conventional farms: impact of agricultural intensification

Published source details

Wickramasinghe L.P., Harris S., Jones G. & Vaughan N. (2003) Bat activity and species richness on organic and conventional farms: impact of agricultural intensification. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40, 984-993

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Convert to organic farming Bat Conservation

A replicated, paired, site comparison study in summer 2000 and 2002 on 24 pairs of farms in southern England and Wales, UK (Wickramasinghe et al 2003) found bat activity to be significantly higher over water habitats on organic farms than on conventional farms (447 vs. 144 total bat passes respectively). Bat activity did not differ significantly between farm types over pasture, arable or woodland habitats. Sixteen bat species were detected on organic farms and 11 on conventional farms but the difference was not significant. The activity of Pipistrellus and Nyctalus spp. did not differ significantly between farm types. Myotis spp. were recorded more on organic farms, and Rhinolophus spp. were only detected on organic farms with the majority in woodland habitats. Certified organic farms that had been established for 1–2 years were paired with nearby conventional farms of a comparable business, size, and number and area of habitat types. Two farms of each pair were sampled from June to September on consecutive nights. Selected habitats (pasture, arable land, water and woodland) found to be present on both farms of a pair were sampled. No details are given about the type or origin of water habitats sampled. Bat activity was recorded using bat detectors for 10 minutes at three random points within each habitat at each site. Recordings were taken for an hour and a half from one hour after sunset. Analysis of habitat surveys showed that pairs of farms were comparable in all aspects except for hedgerow height, which was significantly higher on organic farms.