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Delivering biodiversity and pollination services on farmland: a comparison of three wildlifefriendly farming schemes

Hardman, C. J. (2016) Delivering biodiversity and pollination services on farmland: a comparison of three wildlifefriendly farming schemes. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Gains in food production through agricultural intensification have come at an environmental cost, including reductions in habitat diversity, species diversity and some ecosystem services. Wildlifefriendly farming schemes aim to mitigate the negative impacts of agricultural intensification. In this study, we compared the effectiveness of three schemes using four matched triplets of farms in southern England. The schemes were: i) a baseline of Entry Level Stewardship (ELS: a flexible widespread government scheme, ii) organic agriculture and iii) Conservation Grade (CG: a prescriptive, non-organic, biodiversity-focused scheme). We examined how effective the schemes were in supporting habitat diversity, species diversity, floral resources, pollinators and pollination services. Farms in CG and organic schemes supported higher habitat diversity than farms only in ELS. Plant and butterfly species richness were significantly higher on organic farms and butterfly species richness was marginally higher on CG farms compared to farms in ELS. The species richness of plants, butterflies, solitary bees and birds in winter was significantly correlated with local habitat diversity. Organic farms supported more evenly distributed floral resources and higher nectar densities compared to farms in CG or ELS. Compared to maximum estimates of pollen demand from six bee species, only organic farms supplied sufficient pollen in late summer. The density and species richness of pollinators did not vary between schemes. Both CG and organic farms supported more insect-flower visitation than ELS farms. Pollination services were higher on organic farms. The results showed that prescriptive schemes (e.g. CG) and organic farming are important for supporting habitat diversity and that this is particularly beneficial for butterflies. Late summer emerged as a priority time of year to increase pollen supply on non-organic farms and management options to achieve this are discussed. The data can be used further to inform our understanding of how land management affects biodiversity, particularly pollinators.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Potts, S. and Norris, K.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:66412


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