Clutches of ground-nesting farmland birds are often destroyed by farming operations, resulting in insufficient reproductive success and subsequently declining populations. The aim of this study was to investigate whether volunteer nest protection can enhance nest success of ground-nesting birds. The study compared nest success of protected and unprotected Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus nests over 2 years on arable farms in the Netherlands. Because of different crop management, nest success of ground-breeding birds might differ between organic and conventional arable farms. The effectiveness of volunteer nest protection was therefore investigated on both farm types. Although nest protection significantly reduced nest loss due to farming operations, there were no significant differences in total clutch survival of protected and unprotected nests. However, sample sizes of unprotected nests, and protected nests on organic farms, were relatively small, which may have reduced statistical power. There were indications that protected nests were predated or deserted more often. We recommend exploring different ways to improve the effectiveness of volunteer nest protection through a further reduction of nest loss due to farming operations and predation.
- agriculture arable desertion organic farming predation agricultural intensification farmland birds hatching success england grasslands survival britain wales food Zoology