Organic animal farms increase farmland bird abundance in the Boreal region

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Santangeli , A , Lehikoinen , A , Lindholm , T & Herzon , I 2019 , ' Organic animal farms increase farmland bird abundance in the Boreal region ' , PLoS One , vol. 14 , no. 5 , 0216009 .

Title: Organic animal farms increase farmland bird abundance in the Boreal region
Author: Santangeli, Andrea; Lehikoinen, Aleksi; Lindholm, Tanja; Herzon, Irina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
University of Helsinki, Zoology
University of Helsinki, Finnish Museum of Natural History
University of Helsinki, Department of Agricultural Sciences
Date: 2019-05-15
Language: eng
Number of pages: 16
Belongs to series: PLoS One
ISSN: 1932-6203
Abstract: Agriculture is a primary driver of biodiversity loss worldwide, and several expensive schemes have been designed to make modern farming landscapes more hospitable for wildlife. One such market-based mechanisms is the agri-environment-climate schemes (AES) in the European Union (EU). AES compensate farmers for reducing land-use intensity and maintaining or introducing biodiversity-rich habitats. Despite their high costs, impacts of AES vary by measure, region and taxonomic group considered, and have rarely been studied over large areas covering an entire country. Here we assess the country-wide impact of several AES measures on bird abundance using citizen science data on birds and detailed information on AES take up from across Finland. We report a positive impact of organic animal farming on abundance of all farmland associated birds. This effect was particularly strong for insectivorous species, species that are associated to farmyards and long-distance species. None of the other AES measures considered for study did show any relationship with bird abundance. Overall, these findings highlight the potential positive impact that some compensatory measures, such as organic animal farming, may have on wildlife. Traditional animal husbandry is based on grazing of animals and restriction on external inputs, similarly to what is stipulated under organic production contract. As such, traditional animal husbandry may represent an effective landscape management tool for restoring or maintaining threatened species and ecosystems in rural areas of the EU. Ultimately, the apparent lack of a measurable effect of the other AES considered here supports the current move towards evidence-based regional targeting of compensatory measures, so as to concentrate scarce resources to where they can yield the highest ecological benefits.
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
4111 Agronomy

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