European farm scale habitat descriptors for the evaluation of biodiversity

F. Herzog*, G. Lüscher, M. Arndorfer, M. Bogers, K. Balázs, R.G.H. Bunce, P. Dennis, E. Falusi, J.K. Friedel, I.R. Geijzendorffer, T. Gomiero, P. Jeanneret, G. Moreno, M.L. Oschatz, M.G. Paoletti, J.P. Sarthou, S. Stoyanova, E. Szerencsits, S. Wolfrum, W. FjellstadD. Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat descriptors are cost effective biodiversity indicators demanded by stakeholders and required for regional and global biodiversity monitoring. We mapped 195 farms of different types in twelve case study regions across Europe and tested 18 habitat descriptors for scientific validity, information content and ease of interpretation. We propose a core set consisting of (i) four descriptors to measure structural composition and configuration of farms (Habitat Richness, Habitat Diversity, Patch Size, and Linear Habitats), (ii) three descriptors addressing specific habitat types (Crop Richness, Shrub Habitats, and Tree Habitats) and (iii) one interpreted descriptor (Semi-Natural Habitats). As a set, the descriptors make it possible to evaluate the habitat status of a farm and to track changes occurring due to modified land use and/or management, including agri-environmental measures. The farm habitat maps can provide ground truth information for regional and global biodiversity monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-217
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Agri-environment scheme
  • Agricultural biodiversity
  • Ecological focus area
  • Essential biodiversity variables
  • Habitat map
  • Landscape diversity
  • Monitoring
  • Policy evaluation

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