The effect of land type diversity and spatial heterogeneity on farmland birds in Norway
Abstract The decline in farmland birds observed throughout Europe during recent decades has attracted much attention. Agricultural intensification or land abandonment are commonly forwarded as key drivers. Several countries have established agri-environmental schemes (AES) to counter these negative trends among farmland birds. This paper reports a study of the relationship between land use and bird species in the agricultural landscape of Norway. The main objective was to investigate the effect of spatial heterogeneity and diversity of land use on total richness and abundance of farmland birds at a national level. Monitoring the distribution and abundance of birds is part of the Norwegian monitoring programme for agricultural landscapes. The monitoring programme is based on mapping of 1×1km squares distributed across the entire agricultural landscape. Within these squares permanent observation points are established for bird monitoring. Detailed interpretation of aerial photographs provides the land classification. We tested the relationship between landscape metrics at different levels of land type detail and species richness and abundance of farmland and non-farmland birds. There was a positive relationship between species richness and abundance of farmland birds and agricultural area. For non-farmland birds the relationship was negative. Spatial heterogeneity of land use was a significant positive factor for both farmland and non-farmland species. High land type diversity was positive for farmland bird richness, but negative for abundance. Non-farmland bird richness was not affected by land type diversity, but abundance had a negative response. The results presented in this paper highlight the importance of a spatial heterogeneous landscape. However, we also found that land type diversity could negatively affect the abundance of both farmland and non-farmland birds. Our findings suggest a need for different management approaches depending on whether the aim is increased species richness or abundance. Achieving both aims with the same means might be difficult. We thus suggest a need for land use analyses before proper management strategies can be implemented. Highlights Relationship between landscape metrics and farmland birds were investigated. Spatial heterogeneity of land use is important for species richness and abundance. Land type diversity is important for species richness, but negative for abundance. What level of landscape detail management should focus on is proposed. Spatial heterogeneity should always be a priority, diversity if richness matters. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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