Present address: Ridley Building, School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
The management of crop structure: a general approach to reversing the impacts of agricultural intensification on birds?
Article first published online: 30 JUN 2005
Volume 147, Issue 3, pages 453–463, July 2005
How to Cite
WILSON, J. D., WHITTINGHAM, M. J. and BRADBURY, R. B. (2005), The management of crop structure: a general approach to reversing the impacts of agricultural intensification on birds?. Ibis, 147: 453–463. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919x.2005.00440.x
- Issue published online: 30 JUN 2005
- Article first published online: 30 JUN 2005
- Received 7 July 2004; revision accepted 18 March 2005.
Agricultural intensification is accepted widely as a cause of bird population declines on farmland in Europe and North America. Although intensification is multivariate, one common theme is the impact on variation in crop structure, both within and between fields. Intensification creates simpler, more homogeneous and denser swards in both tillage crops and grassland. This influences predation risk, exposure to weather extremes and the diversity, abundance and accessibility of food. Birds trade off these pressures in different ways, so that the more uniform and dense the vegetation, the fewer the number of birds and range of species that are able to nest and forage successfully. Reversing recent trends towards dense, simplified and homogeneous swards will improve nesting and foraging habitat conditions for a wide range of species across farming systems, and may represent a cost-effective mechanism for the further improvement of agri-environment scheme options designed to assist the recovery of farmland bird populations.