Date published:

Small things are important: the value of singular point elements for birds in agricultural landscapes.

Sylwia Pustkowiak, Zbigniew Kwieciński, Magdalena Lenda, Michał Żmihorski, Zuzanna M. Rosin, Piotr Tryjanowski, Piotr Skórka: Small things are important: the value of singular point elements for birds in agricultural landscapes, Biological Reviews (96)(4) (2021) pp. 1386-1403

doi: 10.1111/brv.12707

Farmland birds belong to the most endangered group of vertebrates in Europe. They are an important component of farmland biodiversity considering the numerous functions they perform (e.g. seed dispersal, improving germination, increasing gene flow, nutrient recycling, and pest control). Therefore, their decline imposes substantial risks on agricultural ecosystems. In general, farmland bird conservation includes land-use and management alterations leading to lessintensive farming and land-sparing for breeding habitats (e.g. agri-environment-climate schemes, and organic farming). However, theoretical concepts describing farmland biodiversity maintenance and applied conservation measures usually ignore the role of singular, often very small, natural or man-made elements in an agricultural landscape. These elements may play a role in farmland biodiversity. We defined and identified singular point elements in the agricultural landscape (SPELs) and evaluated their importance for birds based on a systematic review of literature. Using a horizon-scanning technique, we polled field ornithologists about their observations of birds in relation to SPELs. We identified 17 SPELs that vary in naturalness and age. Little research has aimed to assess the impact of various SPELs on farmland bird diversity and distribution. Ornithologists often observed birds on various SPELs and attributed to SPELs many functions. SPELs should be considered as a potential tool for the conservation of birds and included in predictive models that evaluate habitat suitability for farmland biodiversity.

Foto. Examples of singular point elements in a landscape (SPELs) in farmland. (A) tree, (B) shrub, (C) boulder, (D) puddle, (E) pylons, (F) spiritual site, (G) road sign, (H) post, (I) hunting platform, (J) pile of lime, (K) pile of manure, (L) haystack, (M) pile of stones, (N) scarecrows, and (O) pile of branches.