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The conservation value of restored landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK for supporting bird communities

Biodiversity and Conservation

Abstract

There has been a rapid decline of grassland bird species in the UK over the last four decades. In order to stem declines in biodiversity such as this, mitigation in the form of newly created habitat and restoration of degraded habitats is advocated in the UK biodiversity action plan. One potential restored habitat that could support a number of bird species is re-created grassland on restored landfill sites. However, this potential largely remains unexplored. In this study, birds were counted using point sampling on nine restored landfill sites in the East Midlands region of the UK during 2007 and 2008. The effects of restoration were investigated by examining bird species composition, richness, and abundance in relation to habitat and landscape structure on the landfill sites in comparison to paired reference sites of existing wildlife value. Twelve bird species were found in total and species richness and abundance on restored landfill sites was found to be higher than that of reference sites. Restored landfill sites support both common grassland bird species and also UK Red List bird species such as skylark Alauda arvensis, grey partridge Perdix perdix, lapwing Vanellus vanellus, tree sparrow, Passer montanus, and starling Sturnus vulgaris. Size of the site, percentage of bare soil and amount of adjacent hedgerow were found to be the most influential habitat quality factors for the distribution of most bird species. Presence of open habitat and crop land in the surrounding landscape were also found to have an effect on bird species composition. Management of restored landfill sites should be targeted towards UK Red List bird species since such sites could potentially play a significant role in biodiversity action planning.

Author(s): Rahman, ML; Tarrant, S; McCollin, D; Ollerton, J

Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 2011

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