Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Continuous population declines for specialist farmland birds 1987-2014 in Denmark indicates no halt in biodiversity loss in agricultural habitats

  • HENNING HELDBJERG (a1), PETER SUNDE (a2) and ANTHONY DAVID FOX (a2)
Summary

The 2020 EU biodiversity strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, but this requires effective monitoring to determine whether these aims are achieved. Common bird monitoring continuously assesses changes in the avian community, providing a powerful tool for monitoring temporal changes in the abundance and distribution of these upper trophic level consumers. Two-thirds of Denmark’s land area is intensively farmed, so agricultural habitats make a major contribution to Danish biodiversity. We looked for changes in abundance amongst farmland birds in Denmark during 1987–2014 to test for reductions in declines and to predict whether the 2020-target can be expected to be achieved. Sixteen specialist farmland species were those showing the most rapid declines amongst 102 common breeding species in Denmark. Of these, those species nesting on the ground showed significant long-term declines, which was not the case for those that nest elsewhere, i.e. in hedgerows, trees and buildings. There was no evidence to suggest that these trends were attributable to widespread declines in long-distance migrant species (as reported elsewhere), which may be affected by conditions at other times in the annual cycle. We therefore conclude that continued declines in specialist farmland breeding bird species are due to contemporary agricultural changes within Denmark and urge habitat- and species-specific analysis to identify the core causes of these changes and halt the declines.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence; e-mail: hh@dof.dk
References
Hide All
Bønløkke, J., Madsen, J. J., Thorup, K., Pedersen, K. T., Bjerrum, M. and Rahbek, C. (2006) Dansk Trækfugleatlas. Humlebæk, Denmary: Rhodos. (In Danish).
Bracken, F. and Bolger, T. (2006) Effects of set-aside management on birds breeding in lowland Ireland. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 117: 178184.
Brink, M. and Jensen, J. (2012) Denmark. Pp. 184189 in Oppermann, R., Beaufoy, G. and Jones, G., eds. High nature value farming in Europe. 35 European countries - experiences and perspectives. Ubstadt-Weiher: Verlag Regionalkultur.
Buckingham, D. L., Evans, A. D., Morris, A. J., Orsman, C. J. and Yaxley, R. (1999) Use of set-aside land in winter by declining farmland bird species in the UK. Bird Study 46: 157169.
Buckland, S. T., Magurran, A. E., Green, R. E., Fewster, R. M. (2005) Monitoring change in biodiversity through composite indices. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B 360: 243254.
Danmarks Statistik (2009) Danmark i tal 2009. Copenhagen, Denmark: Danmarks Statistik. (In Danish). Accessible at: http://www.dst.dk/pukora/epub/upload/13448/dkital.pdf (last accessed 20 June 2016).
Danmarks Statistik (2016) Stat Bank Denmark. http://www.statbank.dk/statbank5a/default.asp?w=1680 (last accessed 17. June 2016).
Donald, P. F., Green, R. E. and Heath, M. F. (2001) Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird populations. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 268: 2529.
EBCC (2014) European wild bird indicators, 2014 update: Common farmland bird indicator, Europe, single European species habitat classification, 1980-2014. Prague, Czech Republic: European Bird Census Council. http://www.ebcc.info/index.php?ID=558 (last accessed 20 June 2016).
Engel, J., Huth, A. and Frank, K, (2012) Bioenergy production and Skylark (Alauda arvensis) population abundance – a modelling approach for the analysis of land-use change impacts and conservation options. GCB Bioenergy 4: 713727.
Eskildsen, A., Larsen, J. D. and Heldbjerg, H. (2013) Use of an objective indicator species selection method shows decline in bird populations in Danish habitats. Dansk Orn. Foren. Tidsskr. 107: 191207.
European Commission (2011) Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. Brussels: European Commission. Accessible at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/strategy/index_en.htm (last accessed 26 May 2016).
Ferguson-Lees, J., Castell, R. and Leech, D. (2011) A field guide to monitoring nests. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology.
Fox, A. D. (2004) Has Danish agriculture maintained farmland bird populations? J. Appl. Ecol. 41: 427439.
Gregory, R. D. and van Strien, A. (2010) Wild bird indicators: using composite population trends of birds as measures of environmental health. Ornithol. Sci. 9: 322.
Gregory, R. D., van Strien, A., Vorisek, P., Meyling, A. W. G., Noble, D. G., Foppen, R. P. B. and Gibbons, D. W. (2005) Developing indicators for European birds. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B. 360: 269288.
Heldbjerg, H. (2005) De almindelige fugles bestandsudvikling i Danmark 1975–2004. Dansk. Orn. Foren. Tidsskr. 99: 182195.
Heldbjerg, H. and Fox, A. D. (2008) Long-term population declines in Danish trans-Saharan migrant birds. Bird Study 55: 267279.
Heldbjerg, H., Brandtberg, N. and Jørgensen, M. F. (2014) Overvågning af de almindelige fuglearter i Danmark 1975–2013. Årsrapport for Punkttællingsprogrammet. Dansk Ornitologisk Forening. (In Danish).
Heldbjerg, H., Fox, A. D., Levin, G. and Nyegaard, T. (2016). The decline of the Starling Sturnus vulgaris in Denmark is related to changes in grassland extent and intensity of cattle grazing. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 230: 2431.
Henderson, I. G., Cooper, J., Fuller, R. J. and Vickery, J. (2000a) The relative abundance of birds on set-aside and neighbouring fields in summer. J. Appl. Ecol. 37: 335347.
Henderson, I. G., Vickery, J. A. and Fuller, R. J. (2000b) Summer bird abundance and distribution on set-aside fields on intensive arable farms in England. Ecography 23: 5059.
Hewson, C. M. and Noble, D. G. (2009) Population trends of breeding birds in British woodlands over a 32-year period: relationships with food, habitat use and migratory behaviour. Ibis 151: 464486.
Hulme, M. F. and Cresswell, W. (2012) Density and behaviour of Whinchats Saxicola rubetra on African farmland suggest that winter habitat conditions do not limit European breeding populations. Ibis 154: 680692.
Larsen, J. L., Heldbjerg, H. and Eskildsen, A. (2011) Improving national habitat specific biodiversity indicators using relative habitat use for common birds. Ecol. Indic. 11: 14591466.
Levin, G. and Normander, B. (2008) Arealanvendelse i Danmark siden slutningen af 1800-tallet. Danmarks Miljøundersøgelser, Aarhus Universitet. DMU Faglig Rapport 682. (In Danish). Accessible at: http://www.dmu.dk/Pub/FR682_final.pdf (last accessed 20 June 2016).
Noer, H., Asferg, T., Clausen, P., Olesen, C. R., Bregnballe, T., Laursen, K., Kahlert, J., Teilmann, J., Christensen, T. K. and Haugaard, L. (2009) Vildtbestande og jagttider i Danmark: Det biologiske grundlag for jagttidsrevisionen (2010) Danmarks Miljøundersøgelser, Aarhus Universitet. DMU Rapport nr. 742. (In Danish) Accessible at: http://www.dmu.dk/Pub/FR742.pdf (last accessed 20 June 2016).
Pannekoek, J. and van Strien, A. (2004) TRIM 3 manual (Trends and Indices for Monitoring data). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Statistics Netherlands. Accessible at: www.ebcc.info/trim.html (last accessed 13 March 2014).
Pe’er, G., Dicks, L. V., Visconti, P., Arlettaz, R., Báldi, A., Benton, T. G., Collins, S., Dieterich, M., Gregory, R. D., Hartig, F., Henle, K., Hobson, P. R., Kleijn, D., Neumann, R. K., Robijns, T., Schmidt, J., Shwartz, A., Sutherland, W. J., Turbé, A., Wulf, F. and Scott, A. V. (2014) EU agricultural reform fails on biodiversity. Science 344: 10901092.
Reenberg, A. (1988) Agricultural land-use in Denmark in the 1980s. Geograf. Tidsskr. 88: 813.
Reif, J. (2013) Long-term trends in bird populations: A review of patterns and potential drivers in North America and Europe. Acta Ornithol. 48: 116.
Reif, J., Bohning-Gaese, K., Flade, M., Schwarz, J. and Schwager, M. (2011) Population trends of birds across the iron curtain: Brain matters. Biol. Conserv. 144: 25242533.
Reif, J., Storch, D., Voříšek, P., Šťastný, K. and Bejček, V. (2008) Bird-habitat associations predict population trends in central European forest and farmland birds. Biodivers. Conserv. 17: 33073319.
Reif, J., Vermouzek, V., Voříšek, P., Šťastný, K., Bejček, V. and Flousek, J. (2010) Population changes in Czech passerines are predicted by their life history and ecological traits. Ibis 152: 610621.
Sauerbrei, R., Ekschmitt, K., Wolters, V. and Gottschalk, T. K. (2014) Increased energy maize production reduces farmland bird diversity. GCB Bioenergy 6: 265274.
Sotherton, N. W. (1998) Land use changes and the decline of farmland wildlife: An appraisal of the set-aside approach. Biol. Conserv. 83: 259268.
Sotherton, N. W., Boatman, N. D., Mañosa, S. and Roberston, P. A., (1994) Management of set-aside for game and wildlife. Asp. Appl. Biol. 40: 497505.
Van Turnhout, C. A. M., Foppen, R. P. B., Leuven, R. S. E. W., van Strien, A. and Sipel, H (2010) Life-history and ecological correlates of population change in Dutch breeding birds. Biol. Conserv. 143: 173181.
Vickery, J. A., Ewing, S. R., Smith, K. W., Pain, D. J., Bairlein, F., Skorpilov, J. and Gregory, R. D. (2014) The decline of Afro-Palaearctic migrants and an assessment of potential causes. Ibis 156: 122.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Heldbjerg supplementary material S3
Heldbjerg supplementary material

 Word (13 KB)
13 KB
PDF
Supplementary materials

Heldbjerg supplementary material S1
Appendix

 PDF (458 KB)
458 KB
PDF
Supplementary materials

Heldbjerg supplementary material S2
Appendix

 PDF (111 KB)
111 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed