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Influence of agri-environment scheme options on territory settlement by Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella) and Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Journal of Ornithology

Abstract

Conserving farmland birds is a key objective for agri-environment schemes (AES) across Europe, with a number of management options aimed at providing invertebrate food and nesting habitats. We analysed territory settlement by two widespread but declining farmland buntings with contrasting nesting requirements: the Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, a boundary-nesting species, and the Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra, a ground-nesting species. The study was conducted on farms participating in the English Higher Level Stewardship scheme to test whether territory settlement is influenced by the provision of key arable AES options. Both species settled preferentially in localities containing sown arable field margins, while Corn Bunting also settled in localities containing nectar flower mixtures. These preferences are likely to reflect foraging rather than nesting habitat requirements. Yellowhammer selected territories containing hedgerows under AES management, which are nesting rather than foraging habitat but may also provide food. Uptake by land owners of several AES options likely to provide limiting resources for farmland birds was very low, and because uptake at the landscape scale is also low, wider-scale population level benefits are likely to be constrained. However, this is one of few studies demonstrating selection of widely applied arable AES options by breeding farmland birds.

Author(s): Burgess, MD; Bright, JA; Morris, AJ; Field, RH; Grice, PV; Cooke, AI; Peach, W

Journal: Journal of Ornithology

Year: 2015

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