Effects of livestock farming on birds of rural areas in Europe

Abstract

In the last decades, profound modifications of agricultural practices occurred in Europe, including the introduction of modern livestock farming. These modifications negatively affected the fauna of rural areas, as indicated by the large demographic declines suffered by several populations of birds typical of these habitats. The impact of agricultural practices on bird populations has been widely investigated, while the effect of livestock farming has seldom been assessed. To fill this gap, we carried out a quantitative meta-analysis of the existing scientific literature and evaluated the size of the effects of livestock farming on birds of rural areas in Europe. We only found 26 papers on this topic, from which 72 effect sizes could be estimated. The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) was the species on which most studies focused. Livestock farming positively influenced presence and distribution of barn swallows in breeding habitats, while it did not significantly affect reproduction of this species. Effects on other bird species typical of rural habitats were non-significant. The positive effect on the insectivorous barn swallow might be mediated by the enhanced insect abundance where livestock is reared. In addition, habitat features typical of rural settings where livestock is reared (e.g. cattle-sheds or large hayfields) positively affected barn swallows independently of actual presence of livestock at a setting. Presence of livestock at rural setting therefore seems beneficial to barn swallows, but not significantly to other bird species typical of rural habitats. The effect of livestock farming on birds of rural habitats has been under-investigated to date.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Ambrosini R, Saino N (2010) Environmental effects at two nested spatial scales on habitat choice and breeding performance of barn swallow. Evol Ecol 24:491–508

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ambrosini R, Bolzern A, Canova L, Arieni S, Møller AP, Saino N (2002a) The distribution and colony size of barn swallow in relation to agricultural land use. J Appl Ecol 39:524–534

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ambrosini R, Bolzen AM, Canova L, Saino N (2002b) Latency in the response of barn swallow Hirundo rustica population to changes in breeding habitat conditions. Ecol Lett 5:640–647

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ambrosini R, Rubolini D, Trovo P, Liberini G, Bandini M, Romano A, Sicurella B, Scandolara C, Romano M, Saino N (2012) Maintenance of livestock farming may buffer population decline of the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Bird Conserv Int 22:411–428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Anderson GQA, Bradbury RB, Evans AD (2001) Evidence for the effects of agricultural intensification on wild bird populations in the UK. RSPB Research Report No 3, RSPB, Sandy

  6. Begg CB, Mazumdar M (1994) Operating characteristics of a rank correlation test for publication bias. Biometrics 50:1088–1101

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Benton TG, Vickery JA, Wilson JD (2003) Farmland biodiversity: is habitat heterogeneity the key? Trends Ecol Evol 18:182–188

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale

    Google Scholar 

  9. Donald PF, Green RE, Heath MF (2001) Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird populations. Proc R Soc Lond B 268:25–29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Donald PF, Pisano G, Rayment MD, Pain DJ (2002) The common agricultural policy, EU enlargement and the conservation of Europe’s farmland birds. Agric Ecosyst Environ 89:167–182

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Donald PF, Sanderson FJ, Burfield IJ, Van Bommel FPJ (2006) Further evidence of continent-wide impacts of agricultural intensification on European farmland birds 1990–2000. Agric Ecosyst Environ 116:189–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Duval S, Tweedie R (2000) A non-parametric ‘trim and fill’ method of assessing publication bias in meta-analysis. J Am Stat Assoc 95:89–98

    Google Scholar 

  13. Eggers S, Unell M, Pärt T (2011) Autumn-sowing of cereals reduces breeding bird numbers in a heterogeneous agricultural landscape. Biol Conserv 144:1137–1144

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Evans AD, Robinson RA (2004) Barn swallows and agriculture. Brit Birds 97:218–230

    Google Scholar 

  15. Evans KL, Bradbury RB, Wilson JD (2003) Selection of hedgerows by Swallows Hirundo rustica foraging on farmland: the influence of local habitat and weather. Bird Study 50:8–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Evans DM, Redpath SM, Evans SA, Elston DM, Dennis P (2005) Livestock grazing affects the egg size of an insectivorous passerine. Biol Lett 1:322–325

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. Evans KL, Wilson JD, Bradbury RB (2007) Effects of crop type and aerial invertebrate abundance on foraging barn swallows Hirundo rustica. Agric Ecosyst Environ 122:267–273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Evans DM, Villar N, Littlewood NA, Pakeman RJ, Evans SA, Dennis P, Skartveit J, Redpath SM (2015) The cascading impacts of livestock grazing in upland ecosystems: a 10-year experiment. Ecosphere 6:42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fisher RA (1928) Statistical methods for research workers, 2nd edn. Oliver and Boyd, London

    Google Scholar 

  20. Fragkos KC, Tsagris M, Frangos C (2014) Publication bias in meta-analysis: confidence intervals for Rosenthal’s fail-safe number. Int Sch Res Notices 2014:825383. doi:10.1155/2014/825383

    Google Scholar 

  21. Fuller RJ, Gregory RD, Gibbons DW, Marchant JH, Wilson JD, Baillie SR, Carter N (1995) Population declines and range contractions among lowland farmland birds in Britain. Conserv Biol 9:1425–1441

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Geiger F, Bengtsson J, Berendse F, Weisser WW, Emmerson M, Morales MB, Ceryngier P, Liira J, Tscharntke T, Winqvist C, Eggers S, Bommarco R, Part T, Bretagnolle V, Plantegenest M, Clement LW, Dennis C, Palmer C, Onate JJ, Guerrero I, Hawro V, Aavik T, Thies C, Flohre A, Hanke S, Fischer C, Goedhart PW, Inchausti P (2010) Persistent negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity and biological control potential on European farmland. Basic Appl Ecol 11:97–105

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Gillings S, Fuller RJ (1998) Changes in bird populations on sample lowland English farms in relation to loss of hedgerows and other non-crop habitats. Oecologia 116:120–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Gregory RD, Strien A, van Vorisek P, Meyling AWG, Noble DG, Foppen RPB, Gibbons DW (2005) Developing indicators for European birds. Phil Trans R Soc B 360:269–288

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Grüebler MU, Korner-Nievergelt F, Von Hirsch J (2010) The reproductive benefits of livestock farming in Barn swallows Hirundo rustica: quality of nest site or foraging habitat? J Appl Ecol 47:1340–1347

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Harrison C (1988) A history of the birds of Britain. Collins, London

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hart JD, Milsom TP, Baxter A, Kelly PF, Parkin WK (2002) The impact of livestock on Lapwing Vanellus vanellus breeding densities and performance on coastal grazing marsh: even at very low stocking densities, livestock reduced breeding densities of adult Lapwings and increase the risk of nest loss due to predation. Bird Study 49:67–78

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Henderson I, Holt C, Vickery J (2007) National and regional patterns of habitat association with foraging barn swallows Hirundo rustica in the UK. Bird Study 54:371–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hiron B, Berg A, Eggers S, Josefsson J, Pärt T (2013) Bird diversity relates to agri-environment schemes at local and landscape level in intensive farmland. Agric Ecosyst Environ 176:9–16

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kleijn D, Sutherland WJ (2003) How effective are European agri-environment schemes in conserving and promoting biodiversity? J Appl Ecol 40:947–969

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kragten S, Reinstra E, Gertenaar E (2009) Breeding barn swallows Hirundo rustica on organic and conventional arable farms in the Netherlands. J Ornithol 150:515–518

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lefranc N (1997) Shrikes and the farmed landscape in France. In: Pain DJ, Pienkowski MW (eds) Farming and birds in Europe: the common agricultural policy and its implications for bird conservation. Academic Press, London, pp 236–268

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lubbe SK, de Snoo GR (2007) Effect of dairy farm management on Swallow Hirundo rustica abundance in The Netherlands. Bird Study 54:176–181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. McMahon BJ, Heldena H, Anderson A, Sheridana H, Kinsella A, Purvis G (2010) Interactions between livestock systems and biodiversity in South-East Ireland. Agric Ecosyst Environ 139:232–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Meyer WB, Turner BL II (1992) Human population growth and global land-use/cover change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:39–61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Møller AP (1983) Breeding habitat selection in the Swallow Hirundo rustica. Bird Study 30:134–142

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Møller AP (2001) The effect of dairy farming on barn swallow Hirundo rustica abundance, distribution and reproduction. J Appl Ecol 6:378–389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Møller AP, Nielsen JT (1997) Differential predation cost of a secondary sexual character: sparrowhawk predation on barn swallows. Anim Behav 54:1545–1551

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Møller AP, Jennions MD (2001) Testing and adjusting for publication bias. Trends Ecol Evol 16:580–586

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Newton I (2004) The recent declines of farmland bird populations in Britain: an appraisal of causal factors and conservation actions. Ibis 146:579–600

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Orłowski G, Karg J (2011) Diet of nestling barn swallows Hirundo rustica in rural areas of Poland. Cent Eur J Biol 6:1025–1035

    Google Scholar 

  42. Orłowski G, Karg J (2013) Partitioning the effect of livestock farming on the diet of an aerial insectivorous passerine, the barn swallow Hirundo rustica. Bird Study 60:111–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Pavel C (2004) The impact of grazing animals on nesting success of grassland passerines in farmland and natural habitats: a field experiment. Folia Zool 53(171):178

    Google Scholar 

  44. PECBMS (2015) http://www.ebcc.info/index.php?ID=588. Accessed on 1 Nov 2015

  45. R Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna

    Google Scholar 

  46. Robinson RA, Sutherland WJ (2002) Post-war changes in arable farming and biodiversity in Great Britain. J Appl Ecol 39:157–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Rosenthal R (1979) The ‘‘file drawer problem’’ and tolerance for null results. Psychol Bull 86:638–641

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Rosenthal R (1991) Meta-analytic procedures for social research. Russell Sage Foundation, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  49. Rosenthal R (1994) Parametric measures of effect size. In: Cooper H, Hedges LV (eds) The handbook of research synthesis. Russell Sage Foundation, New York, pp 231–244

    Google Scholar 

  50. Sicurella B, Caprioli M, Romano A, Romano M, Rubolini D, Saino N, Ambrosini R (2014) Hayfields enhance colony size of the barn swallow Hirundo rustica in northern Italy. Bird Conserv Int 24:17–31

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Song F, Eastwood AJ, Gilbody S, Duley L, Sutton AJ (2000) Publication and related biases. Health Technol Asses 4:1–115

    Google Scholar 

  52. Tucker G (1997) Priorities for bird conservation in Europe: the importance of the farmed landscape. In: Pain DJ, Pienkowski MW (eds) Farming and birds in Europe: the common agricultural policy and its implications for bird conservation. Academic Press, London, pp 79–116

    Google Scholar 

  53. Turner AK (2006) The barn swallow. T and AD Poyser, London

    Google Scholar 

  54. Van den Brink B (2003) Hygienemaatregelen op moderne boerenbedrijven en het lot van Boerenzwaluwen Hirundo rustica. Limosa 76:109–116

    Google Scholar 

  55. Van den Noortgate W, López-López JA, Marín-Martínez F, Sánchez-Meca J (2013) Three-level meta-analysis of dependent effect sizes. Behav Res 45:576–594

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Vickery JA, Tallowin JR, Feber RE, Asteraki EJ, Atkinson PW, Fuller RJ, Brown VK (2001) The management of lowland neutral grasslands in Britain: effects of agricultural practices on birds and their food resources. J Appl Ecol 38:647–664

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Viechtbauer W (2010) Conducting meta-analyses in R with the metafor package. J Stat Softw 36(3):1–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Von Post M, Smith H (2015) Effects on rural house sparrow and tree sparrow populations by experimental nest-site addition. J Ornithol 156:231–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Willi T, Körner-Nievergelt F, Grüebler MU (2011) Rauchschwalben Hirundo rustica brauchen Nutztiere, Mehlschwalben Delichon urbicum Nisthilfen. Orn Beob 108:215–224

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Prof. Wim Van den Noortgate for advices on meta-analytic mixed models. Grzegorz Orłowski kindly provided additional information on sign of effect sizes not reported in original papers. Comments by Dan Chamberlain and an anonymous reviewer greatly improved the quality of the paper. This research was funded by grant 2014-ATE-0437 to RA.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Federica Musitelli.

Additional information

Communicated by Karen E. Hodges.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 52 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 110 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Musitelli, F., Romano, A., Møller, A.P. et al. Effects of livestock farming on birds of rural areas in Europe. Biodivers Conserv 25, 615–631 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-016-1087-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Agricultural intensification
  • Barn swallow
  • Farmlands
  • Hierarchical linear models
  • Livestock farming
  • Meta-analysis