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The management of crop structure: A general approach to reversing the impacts of agricultural intensification on birds?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD


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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. © 2005 British Ornithologists' Union.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wilson JD, Whittingham MJ, Bradbury RB

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ibis

Year: 2005

Volume: 147

Issue: 3

Pages: 453-463

ISSN (print): 0019-1019

ISSN (electronic): 1474-919X


DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919x.2005.00440.x