The aim of this study was to analyse the effects of differences in cropping pattern between organic and conventional arable farms on the breeding activity of skylarks and to assess the effects of arable crop management on skylark nest survival. Skylark nest density was seven times higher on organic farms than on conventional farms (0.63 vs. 0.09 nest per 10 ha). Skylarks showed a strong preference for spring cereals, lucerne and grass leys, all of which were mainly or exclusively grown on organic farms. On organic farms nests were initiated during the entire breeding season, but on conventional farms no nesting activity was found during the peak of the season (early May to early June). On organic farms 27% of all nests was successful. Increasing the availability of suitable breeding habitat during the peak of the breeding season on conventional farms might provide one means of enhancing breeding skylark populations. On organic farms, crop management should focus on reducing nest loss due to fanning operations. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- organic farming Alauda arvensis habitat preference arable crops reproductive success mechanical weeding farmland birds nest success agricultural intensification population trends england abundance britain Agriculture Environmental Sciences & Ecology