Land-use intensity impacts habitat selection of ground-nesting farmland birds in The Netherlands

Publisher(s): University of Groningen

Publication date: 18 November 2022

Author(s): Yuhong Li, Theunis Piersma, Jos Hooijmeijer, Ruth Howison

Post-war intensification of agriculture has extensively modified the countryside of Europe, transforming most semi-natural grassland habitats into homogeneous fields, characterized by mechanization, deep drainage and the increasing use of artificial fertilizers and agrochemicals (Benton et al., 2003; Emmerson et al., 2016), and unfavourable to farmland birds that require varied habitat structures for breeding, refugia and food resources (Donald et al., 2001; Newton, 2004, 2017; Stoate et al., 2009). The diversity and abundance of insects, the main food of farmland birds during the breeding season, are significantly lower in high-intensity farmland compared to low-intensity farmland (Seibold et al., 2019). Moreover, intensive agricultural practices contribute to soil degradation by lowering groundwater tables and mechanically injecting manure, which intensifies soil desiccation and results in a hard top soil layer impenetrable for soil probing birds (Gilroy et al., 2008; Onrust & Piersma, 2019; Onrust, Wymenga, Piersma, et al., 2019). Furthermore, frequent mechanical mowing coinciding with the birds' breeding season reduces the reproductive success of farmland birds (Kentie et al., 2015; Kleijn et al., 2010; Kruk et al., 1997; Roodbergen & Teunissen, 2019). download publication