Chinese Birds
Chinese Birds 2013, 4(4) 265-280 DOI:   10.5122/cbirds.2013.0026  ISSN: 1674-7674 CN: 11-5870/Q

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Keywords
farmland birds
hierarchical monitoring scheme
agricultural landscape
vegetation structures
habitat matrix
biodiversity
Authors
J?rg HOFFMANN
Udo WITTCHEN
Ulrich STACHOW
Gert BERGER
PubMed
Article by J?rg HOFFMANN
Article by Udo WITTCHEN
Article by Ulrich STACHOW
Article by Gert BERGER

Identification of habitat requirements of farmland birds based on a hierarchical structured monitoring scheme

Jörg HOFFMANN 1,*, Udo WITTCHEN 1, Ulrich STACHOW 2, Gert BERGER 2

1 Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Strategies and Technology Assessment, Stahnsdorfer Damm 81, D-14532 Kleinmachnow, Germany 2 Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Institute of Land Use Systems, Eberswalder Strasse 84, D-15374 Müncheberg, Germany

Abstract

Agricultural landscapes are essential for the conservation of biodiversity. Nevertheless, a negative trend continues to be observed in many rural areas for the most prominent indicator species group, the farmland birds. However, clear cause-effect relationships are rarely reported and sometimes difficult to deduce, especially from monitoring data which are based only on the detection of species and counts of the numbers of individuals. Because the identification of habitat preferences is a precondition for farmland bird biodiversity conservation efforts, a monitoring scheme for the simultaneous collection and analysis of bird and land use data was developed and tested. In order to assign the occurrence of bird species to land characteristics at various spatial scales and different land use and crop types, we applied a hierarchical structured sampling design. The spatial scales were ‘agricultural landscape’, ‘agricultural landscape types’, ‘field crops and other habitats’ and ‘vegetation structures’. These scales were integrated with a novel concept, the ‘habitat matrix’ (HM). This method was applied to farmland breeding bird abundances on 29 plots, each 1 km² in size, by the use of the territory mapping method. The same plots were enlarged by a 100 m buffer and the sizes and location of habitats documented. Vegetation height, coverage and density were also recorded for all crop fields in the study area. We propose that this monitoring method facilitates the identification of scale dependent relationships between farmland bird habitat characteristics and bird abundance. This is demonstrated by the farmland bird species Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), and Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra). The breeding territories of these species reveal large differences within the various spatial scales ‘agricultural landscape’, ‘agricultural landscape types’ and ‘field crops’. Throughout the breeding season the abundances varied, dependent on the field crop and the development of vegetation structures (height, coverage, and density). HM-analysis led to the identification of specific habitat configurations preferred by individual bird species within the agricultural landscape. These findings indicate that the methodology has the potential to design monitoring schemes for the identification of cause-and-effects of landscape configuration, land use and land use changes on the habitat suitability and abundance of farmland birds.

Keywords farmland birds   hierarchical monitoring scheme   agricultural landscape   vegetation structures   habitat matrix   biodiversity  
Received 2013-03-15 Revised  Online: 2013-09-26 
DOI: 10.5122/cbirds.2013.0026
Corresponding Authors: Jorg Hoffmann
Email: joerg.hoffmann@jki.bund.de
About author:

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