Seasonal distribution of meadow birds in relation to in-field heterogeneity and management

J. Verhulst, D. Kleijn, W. Loonen, F. Berendse, C. Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Effectiveness of European initiatives to restore populations of meadow breeding waders is heavily debated. We studied field preference of meadow birds throughout the breeding season in four areas of over 100 ha each and related observed patterns of individual birds to in-field heterogeneity, sward height and management. Over the four areas, most waders were observed in the more heterogeneous fields at both the period of nest site selection and incubation. Additionally, fields grazed at relatively low-intensity for longer consecutive periods (on average 6 cows/ha for 30 d instead of 20 cows/ha for 2 d) were hosting high densities of lapwings but also black-tailed godwits. Our results suggest that in-field heterogeneity may be important for meadow breeding waders at the nest site selection and incubation stages. Conservation initiatives aimed at meadow breeding waders might improve their effectiveness when they increase the heterogeneity of fields. Grazing for longer consecutive periods at relatively low stocking rates might be a way to achieve this, if carried out at stocking rates low enough to allow waders to reproduce successfully.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • agri-environment schemes
  • lapwings vanellus-vanellus
  • godwit limosa-limosa
  • agricultural intensification
  • farmland birds
  • food resources
  • habitat
  • grasslands
  • success
  • england


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