Should conservation strategies consider spatial generality? Farmland birds show regional not national patterns of habitat association




A key assumption underlying any management practice implemented to aid wildlife conservation is that it will have similar effects on target species across the range it is applied. However, this basic assumption is rarely tested. We show that predictors [nearly all associated with agri-environment scheme (AES) options known to affect European birds] had similar effects for 11 bird species on sites with differing farming practice (pastoral vs. mixed farming) or which differed in the density at which the species was found. However, predictors from sites in one geographical region tended to have different effects in other areas suggesting that AES options targeted at a regional scale are more likely to yield beneficial results for farmland birds than options applied uniformly in national schemes. Our study has broad implications for designing conservation strategies at an appropriate scale, which we discuss.