Article: article from journal or magazin.
New vineyard cultivation practices create patchy ground vegetation, favouring Woodlarks
Journal of Ornithology
Intensive agriculture, in which detrimental farming practices lessen food abundance and/or reduce food accessibility for many animal species, has led to a widespread collapse of farmland biodiversity. Vineyards in central and southern Europe are intensively cultivated; though they may still harbour several rare plant and animal species, they remain little studied. Over the past decades, there has been a considerable reduction in the application of insecticides in wine production, with a progressive shift to biological control (integrated production) and, to a lesser extent, organic production. Spraying of herbicides has also diminished, which has led to more vegetation cover on the ground, although most vineyards remain bare, especially in southern Europe. The effects of these potentially positive environmental trends upon biodiversity remain mostly unknown as regards vertebrates. The Woodlark (Lullula arborea) is an endangered, short-distance migratory bird that forages and breeds on the ground. In southern Switzerland (Valais), it occurs mostly in vineyards. We used radiotracking and mixed effects logistic regression models to assess Woodlark response to modern vineyard farming practices, study factors driving foraging micro-habitat selection, and determine optimal habitat profile to inform management. The presence of ground vegetation cover was the main factor dictating the selection of foraging locations, with an optimum around 55% at the foraging patch scale. These conditions are met in integrated production vineyards, but only when grass is tolerated on part of the ground surface, which is the case on ca. 5% of the total Valais vineyard area. In contrast, conventionally managed vineyards covering a parts per thousand yen95% of the vineyard area are too bare because of systematic application of herbicides all over the ground, whilst the rare organic vineyards usually have a too-dense sward. The optimal mosaic with ca. 50% ground vegetation cover is currently achieved in integrated production vineyards where herbicide is applied every second row. In organic production, ca. 50% ground vegetation cover should be promoted, which requires regular mechanical removal of ground vegetation. These measures are likely to benefit general biodiversity in vineyards.
Agricultural intensification, Population decline, Herbicides, Vegetation structure, Lullula arborea, Habitat selection, Habitat restoration
Web of science
Last modification date