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Effect of boundary vegetation and landscape features on diversity and abundance of breeding bird communities of abandoned crop fields in southwest Poland

Bird Study


Capsule The number of territories of birds nesting in abandoned crop fields was most strongly positively affected by field size and the presence of a railway embankment. Aims To assess the influence of different habitat features on the number of birds nesting in abandoned crop fields. Methods A breeding bird survey was conducted in spring 2002 using the mapping method on 67 abandoned fields located in southwest Poland. The associations between eight habitat features of the abandoned fields and the numbers of particular species and groups of birds, as well as the whole bird community, were tested with a GLM. Results The models for eight individual species revealed the following ranking, in terms of number of species affected by each predictor: area of fields (5), railway embankments and adjacent crop fields (4), roads and power lines (2), and number of trees (1). The number of the most numerous group of birds (species nesting on the ground, 79% of all breeding pairs) was affected by four predictors: field area, railway embankments, power lines and roads. The number of all birds was affected by six predictors: field area, railway embankments, power lines, roads, ditches and trees. Conclusion Limited effects of trees, hedgerows and ditches on the number of territories suggest that abandoned fields without woody vegetation are attractive breeding habitats for many farmland birds. One of the effective ways of protecting farmland bird species in central Europe may be the preservation of abandoned fields in their present form, especially those <5 ha in area.

Author(s): Orlowski, G

Journal: Bird Study

Year: 2010