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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark Whittingham
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Some agri-environment schemes promote the creation and management of a variety of non-crop habitats on farmland in the UK, yet there has been relatively little monitoring to assess how species, particularly birds, use these habitats. The present study deals with a declining UK farmland bird species, yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, and considers to what extent grass margins of arable fields are used as a foraging habitat when feeding nestlings. Studies were carried out in lowland mixed farmland in southern England.Grass margins and other non-crop field boundary habitats, such as hedgerows and ditches, were selected relative to cropped areas by yellowhammers. No significant difference was found between use of cut and uncut grass margins. Studies have shown that grass margins support high densities of invertebrates and their provision at the edge of arable fields would benefit yellowhammers during the breeding season both as habitat for prey and as nesting habitat. During the breeding season from May to August, management should create cut and uncut grass margins in close proximity to each other. This could be achieved by cutting only the outer edge of the grass margin, maintaining cover next to the hedgerow. Cut areas would provide easier access to food resources for birds and prevent weed encroachment to the crop, whilst adjacent uncut areas would maintain invertebrate sources and provide nesting cover for yellowhammers.
Author(s): Whittingham MJ; Perkins AJ; Morris AJ; Kyrkos A; Bradbury RB
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
ISSN (print): 0167-8809
ISSN (electronic): 1873-2305
Publisher: Elsevier BV
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