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Can ecosystem services be integrated with conservation? A case study of breeding waders on grassland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Caroline Rhymer, Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD


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We review published studies to show that changes in soil moisture levels have significant impacts on a range of wading bird species that use UK lowland grassland, including wet grassland, and obtain their food predominantly by probing the soil. We examine both the hydrological and the ecological literature and assess how management options could alter (1) ecosystem services (via water quality and flooding) and (2) habitat quality for wading birds. The combination of biodiversity goals with broader ecosystem services has been widely advocated and we suggest that appropriate management at multiple scales (e.g. small-scale: ponds; large-scale: integrated washlands) could potentially provide both ecosystem services and habitat for wading grassland birds. However, there is only a limited base of evidence on which to assess the potential linkage between these two areas, particularly for non-wading bird species. Future work should be directed at identifying (1) how crop yield, ecosystem services and biodiversity relate to each other, (2) the extent of land needed to be managed to benefit these multiple purposes and bring about measurable gain (e.g. one or two ponds may make significant inroads in reducing run-off and pollution but make little difference to wading birds) and (3) solutions to the challenges of setting up management options at large spatial scales (e.g. catchments).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rhymer CM, Robinson RA, Smart J, Whittingham MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: IBIS

Year: 2010

Volume: 152

Issue: 4

Pages: 698-712

Print publication date: 16/08/2010

ISSN (print): 0019-1019

ISSN (electronic): 1474-919X

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2010.01049.x


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