You must log in or register to comment.

Wagamaga OP t1_j3dmh52 wrote

This ten-year study measured changes in the abundance of farmland birds on land managed under bird-focused lower- and higher-tier agri-environment schemes, as well as land no bird-friendly farming initiatives.

Under the higher-tier scheme, an average of 11% of the farm was devoted to bird-friendly measures, whereas <4% was managed under the lower-tier schemes. The authors specifically studied bird-friendly measures that provide seed-rich habitat for winter foraging, insect-rich habitat for feeding chicks, and nesting habitat for ground nesting species such as Lapwing. Higher-tier farms also received bespoke one-to-one management advice prior to the start of their agreements.

The results showed that when approximately 10% of a farm was devoted to bird-friendly farming practices under the higher-tier scheme, this benefitted over half of the farmland bird species in two of the three study regions. Although lower-tier provision generally failed to increase bird numbers, it helped to sustain populations of some species, which continued to decline in the absence of agri-environment support elsewhere.

The second part of the study asked what proportion of the farmed landscape would need to be placed into higher-tier agreements to recover farmland birds by 10% over ten years. The answer was similar in the two regions – 26% in the pastoral West Midlands and 31% in arable East Anglia.


BlueWarstar t1_j3dz2jk wrote

I would think that having the right birds around could also help curb pests that destroy their crops as well.


vicious_snek t1_j3ga9kb wrote

> I would think that having the right birds around could also help curb pests that destroy their crops as well.

Or we could institute a bounty on those pesky pest sparrows and smash em so they don't eat our grain.


Fuck-YOU-Goat t1_j3dpdmo wrote

So, animals thrive when not subjected to misery?


SethikTollin7 t1_j3dqfjy wrote

So, animals given 10% of an area have a place to exist again??!? 1?!

Can we all just go back to trolling What is this, why am I only seeing letters, I can't log out!eleven!


mtcwby t1_j3e7rvw wrote

Just leaving the fence lines unplowed does a lot for the birds. They serve as cover and pathways for them. My aunt had a farm up in Eastern Oregon and the pheasants were thick out there 30 years ago. To the point that most of the vehicles didn't have sideview mirrors because everybody had hit a pheasant at some point and knocked them off. Now they're a lot more scarce as the farmers have pulled up the fence lines between fields and removed a lot of habitat.

It doesn't mean you can't clear space but leaving some cover is needed. We cleared a lot of brush around our ranch house that had built up over the years by grinding. Getting rid of that brush has increased the amount of deer and quail in the area considerably which surprised me a little. Going forward I'm going to clear more but leave more paths through it that the game appear to prefer. The reality is it used to burn off regularly and achieve a similar result.


Schneider21 t1_j3fu4q4 wrote

This is why I get irritated when I hear people grouse (sorry, had to) about environmental impact studies being done on projects as small as a single drainage ditch.

"Is it really that big a deal they gotta spend all that money and time for one small ditch?" Yeah, bro! Our ecosystem is insanely complex, and the subtlest changes can have major, indirect, and potentially unforeseen impacts on any number of animals.

"Well nature kills off species all the time. Look at the dinosaurs." Uh, okay. I'd rather the species not go extinct myself, personally, because what else would this all be for otherwise. And even if we're not directly at risk now, think about the impact it could have on us in the very near future. Everyone who likes eating food should be super concerned about the bee population and ensuring we're doing everything we can to keep them going strong.


NoMidnight5366 t1_j3etgtj wrote

I have about 40 acres of field about half of which is hay field. The other half I’ve been leaving uncut til the fall and I’ve been amazed at how the bird populations have thrived. I’ve also been mowing cuts in the fallow fields halfway through summer to give birds some easy feeding on the insects.


hotsauce96 t1_j3gzeh0 wrote

What I think some people don’t understand is when they talk about habitat for birds, they don’t mean all birds. I can only speak for the US but loss of grassland breeding habitat caused the extinction of at least one native species (the heath hen in the eastern US) and a severe reduction in the range of others (Dickcissels, Bobolinks, longspurs, meadowlarks etc). These birds breed in early summer and nest in tall grass, which often means hayfields. If farmers mow around the same time to get in another crop then that means the loss of all the nestlings and the parents will not try to breed there again. Dedicating ten percent is good but what The Massachusetts Audubon society have been doing to help Bobolink populations recover is paying farmers to wait and now their field at the end of summer, after the birds have finished breeding. It means the fields can still be 100% used AND the birds can have a successful breeding season. It’s been a huge success.


AutoModerator t1_j3dm8ye wrote

Vote for Best of r/science 2022!

Welcome to r/science! This is a heavily moderated subreddit in order to keep the discussion on science. However, we recognize that many people want to discuss how they feel the research relates to their own personal lives, so to give people a space to do that, personal anecdotes are allowed as responses to this comment. Any anecdotal comments elsewhere in the discussion will be removed and our normal comment rules apply to all other comments.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.


Cloudy_Worker t1_j3fhe8a wrote

"bird-focused schemes"...tell me more


dontrackonme t1_j3evywf wrote

Get rid of all outdoor cats. All bird problems solved.

>Anthropogenic threats, such as collisions with man-made structures, vehicles, poisoning and predation by domestic pets, combine to kill billions of wildlife annually. Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.


The_Countess t1_j3gb64r wrote

>The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative

>Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality.

Also, mainland birds evolved to deal with predatory losses, their problem is loss of habitat. It's normal for billions of birds to die every year, it's not normal for them to not find places to breed and forage.


beebeereebozo t1_j3fib3p wrote

Why should I devote 10% of my land to birds?


[deleted] t1_j3fryyc wrote

In my opinion, that discussion is really the core issue, and one that isn't talked about enough.

As a society, we don't have a widespread agreement on how much importance to place on the continued existence of wildlife. Hence, whenever this sort of this comes up, you have different groups who are essentially arguing from wildly different core beliefs, making it very hard to come to agreements. You've got people with core theses ranging from:

  • Wildlife has an intrinsic right to exist for its own sake, and we should protect that, even at the expense of human civilization.

  • Wildlife has a right to exist, provided it isn't impeding human civilization too much.

  • Wildlife should exist because it provides tourism benefits, and hence should only exist in the context of human-accessible zones like national parks (No fully blocked off nature preserves)

  • Wildlife should only be promoted insofar as it has direct benefits to civilization, for instance in pest control

  • Wildlife is a nuisance that should be eliminated wherever possible in favor of technological solutions to pests / pollination / etc., as these are more controllable/reliable.

None of these these are fundamentally "right" or "wrong". Instead they are, quite simply, different ways of looking at the world. And people following different ones of these will very rarely agree on what we should do about protecting wildlife areas. And even more rarely will agree on the discussion points leading to an individual action to preserve / not-preserve an area.

Hence you end up with situations like this, where one side argues "We must preserve at least 10% of all farmland for bird habitat because birds deserve to exist", and another side argues "Preserving 10% of land would hurt human development, and birds don't do anything uniquely useful for us anyways", and a third argues "We should do a study to optimize the amount of land preserved to maximize food output given the benefit that bird populations have on controlling agricultural pests". Reconciling those is hard.

We largely know how to get wildlife populations to bounce back: give them habitat. The issue is agreeing how much habitat to give them. And that's much more a philosophical discussion point where we work out what intrinsic value we place in wildlife, rather than biological sciences one where we exhaustively calculate relative pros and cons of preservation.


beebeereebozo t1_j3g294m wrote

I see it very simply: Minimize the amount of land needed for food production, minimize the amount of land converted to ag and other commercial uses. That mean intensive ag zones and untouched native habitat, not some patchwork of the two.


genericHumanName1 t1_j3izbac wrote

Why not some patchwork of the two? Even if you minimize and isolate the amount of land needed, it'll still be a lot and stay connected to wildlife. It is a good idea to make the agricultural land more wildlife friendly.


beebeereebozo t1_j3koa2v wrote

It's a matter of best use. For instance, if my farm is 100% Class I soil and I have good water, devoting 10% to "nature" means 10% less production and additional cost for preserving that land applied against productive land. Then, that production needs to be made up somewhere else. What is of greater environmental benefit, a 10% patchwork that really isn't "natural", reduces efficiency, and increases cost of food, or preserving contiguous swaths of land in its natural state?

Now, if a significant portion of my land was marginal for farming and there was an incentive for maintaining it as natural habitat, that's a different matter.


nautilist t1_j3oeb6z wrote

It's not simply philosophy - biodiverse forests store twice as much carbon dioxide as monocultures. Our conversion of natural ecosystems to farmed monocultures is a factor in causing climate change. Per articles such as this one.