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The effect of semi-natural grasslands on birds in agricultural landscapes

Jörgensen, Martin (2017) BIOK01 20171
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
The effect that non-cultivated grasslands have on birds in a landscape dominated by farmland

What is the problem?
In the past few hundred years farming practices across the world have become more and more intense. More land area is being used to produce items somehow related to human consumption and the intensity of farming in these areas is higher than ever in order to produce as much product as possible.
These intense farming practices have brought with them negative effects on the wildlife that originally occupied these areas. Bird communities in Europe have been facing major declines directly associated with the expansion of farming, and scientists are trying to find out how to help them in a way that is sustainable for both... (More)
The effect that non-cultivated grasslands have on birds in a landscape dominated by farmland

What is the problem?
In the past few hundred years farming practices across the world have become more and more intense. More land area is being used to produce items somehow related to human consumption and the intensity of farming in these areas is higher than ever in order to produce as much product as possible.
These intense farming practices have brought with them negative effects on the wildlife that originally occupied these areas. Bird communities in Europe have been facing major declines directly associated with the expansion of farming, and scientists are trying to find out how to help them in a way that is sustainable for both humans and birds.
Our project has been aimed towards trying to figure out how non-cultivated grasslands, only maintained through grazing, affect birds in farmland areas in southern Sweden.
We hoped to be able to prove that having fields of non-cultivated grassland areas in a landscape of fairly intense farming would benefit the birds living there.

How was it done?
Eight places in southern Sweden were chosen for our study. At each place there were separate areas, one that only had farmland and one that had farmland and a non-cultivated grassland. In order to compare the two we spent every morning for two months (May and July) counting all the birds at these places, what species they belong to as well as how many there were of each was noted down. These notes were later used to digitally preform statistical tests to evaluate whether there were more birds in one or the other location.
What did we find?
After a long period of analysing the data we had collected, we have found that in areas that have a non-cultivated grassland we also find more species of bird than we do in areas that are made up of farmland only.
Another interesting thing we found out was that some species actually prefer spending time in areas where there is only farmland. The skylark and the common wood pigeon prefer a farmland area whereas the hooded crow and the common blackbird would rather be where they have close access to a non-cultivated grassland.
What does this mean?
The results we found mean that having a non-cultivated grassland in an area predominantly covered by farmland can be considered beneficial for most birds. Despite this there are still things that need investigating. For example, we need to figure out how to manage these non-cultivated grasslands in such a way that it provides maximum benefits to wildlife in the area. Scientists need to keep working in order to best be able to advise lawmakers on how to manage farming areas. Farming needs to be done in such a way that birds and other animals that call these places home are not harmed, whilst still producing food and other useful things for humans.

Supervisor: Matthias Tschumi
Degree Project 15 credits 2017
Lund University, Department of Biology (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Jörgensen, Martin
supervisor
organization
course
BIOK01 20171
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
language
English
id
8925755
date added to LUP
2017-09-15 15:19:16
date last changed
2017-09-15 15:19:16
@misc{8925755,
  author       = {Jörgensen, Martin},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The effect of semi-natural grasslands on birds in agricultural landscapes},
  year         = {2017},
}