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Akkerrandbeheer statistisch onderzocht
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Management of field margins analysed

Bureau Waardenburg was commissioned by Brabant Landscape Foundation to undertake the stastical analysis for the multi-year biodiversity project 'SoLaBio' (Species and Landscapes as carrier of Biodiversity). In the framework of the SoLaBio project, the effectiveness of different field margin management types on the abundance and species diversity of birds was investigated in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The study was conducted in three regions of Brabant in control areas (without treatment) and edges that were sown with grain-herb mixtures or grass-herb mixtures, with or without a strip of black soil. Bureau Waardenburg carried out the statistical analysis of the ornithological part of the research.

Seasonal preferences

The analysis focused on the questions whether there are statistically significant differences between edge types and years. The use of field edges was measured as the number of breeding territories of birds, and the number of individuals and species of foraging birds in summer and in winter. The analysis concentrated on the species for which the field margins were developed such as yellow wagtail, skylark, meadow pipit, partridge and raptors.

The combined effects of the three regions, the four different types of field margin management and the three years were compared using the statistical method General Linear Models (GLM). The analysis revealed that in general the so-called "split grain- and duo margin" had the most beneficial effects (as compared to the control areas) on the studied bird groups. This field margin is divided into sections that are sown with two types of mixtures: a grain-herb mixture and grass-herb mixture, which yields a wide flowery grass and grain edge. The positive effect was most evident by breeding birds, for which nearly no other margin types resulted in improvements. By foraging birds and raptors other edge types provided positive effects as well, but the preference of birds for field margins seemed to be different in winter and summer.

Targeted management 

The statistical results demonstrated that the applied field margins can have a positive impact on birds in the agricultural landscape. However, it became also clear that the choice of an edge type must be tailored to the target species: the best edge type is for example different for foraging birds in summer than for raptors in winter.

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