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Fordingbridge, United Kingdom

Firbank L.,University of Leeds | Bradbury R.B.,RSPB | McCracken D.I.,Scottish Agricultural College | Stoate C.,Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment | Year: 2013

Here, we review the delivery of ecosystem services from Enclosed Farmland in the UK, and explore how the expected demands for ecosystem services might be met in the future. Most Enclosed Farmland is managed for agriculture; the UK is 60% self-sufficient in foods. Pollinators are in serious decline, but little is known of trends of predators of crop pests. Effects of agriculture on water quality and climate regulation are negative but improving; GHG emissions fell by 20% between 1990 and 2008. Recent declines in numbers of some farmland birds and in plant species richness have been halted, though not reversed. Enclosed Farmland provides considerable leisure and cultural value. Effective delivery of multiple ecosystem services requires improved understanding of how ecosystem services are generated, and of their economics and governance. Food production can be integrated with the delivery of other ecosystem services by promoting a diversity of farming systems and allocating land to different ecosystem services according to its suitability. Approaches include, minimising negative environmental impacts of food production through technology; mitigating environmental harm by managing areas for environmental benefit, from patches within fields to much larger areas; and developing markets and regulations for environmental protection. © 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V. Source

Draycott R.A.H.,Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2012

Restoration of a sustainable wild grey partridge shoot in eastern England.- Eastern England has been a stronghold for grey partridges Perdix perdix, but in common with the rest of Britain, numbers declined from the 1950s onwards. Partridges within a 40 km2 study area in the county of Norfolk have been monitored in conjunction with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) since the 1950s. Since 2001 a programme of habitat creation, supplementary feeding and predation control was undertaken by the landowner, farmers and gamekeepers to restore partridges. Numbers increased from 4.7 pairs/km2 in March 2001 to 54 pairs/km2 in March 2011. These densities are comparable with those before the national decline in grey partridge stock. In the last three winters, between 13 and 74 birds/km2 were harvested and spring stocks continue to increase. © 2012 Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona. Source

Orledge J.M.,University of Exeter | Blount J.D.,University of Exeter | Hoodless A.N.,Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust | Royle N.J.,University of Exeter
Functional Ecology | Year: 2012

The 'parasite-mediated sexual selection' (PMSS) hypothesis predicts that exaggerated male ornamentation could provide a signal to females of a male's ability to resist parasites. Empirical tests of the PMSS have been largely equivocal, however, which may be because most have not considered the role of early life-history effects. 2.Many sexually selected traits are carotenoid-based. Allocation of dietary-derived carotenoids to sexual ornaments may trade-off with allocation to pro-inflammatory immune response and/or antioxidant functions, mediated by the oxidative status of individuals. Exposure to parasites can increase oxidative stress, so under this scenario, sexually selected traits indicate ability to resist oxidative stress rather than ability to resist parasites per se. Such life-history trade-offs, mediated by oxidative status of individuals, are particularly acute during growth and development. 3.Here, we use ring-necked pheasants, Phasianus colchicus, a strongly sexually selected species, to test whether supplementation with dietary antioxidants (vitamin E) can mitigate the effects of early exposure to parasites (the nematode, Heterakis gallinarum), via alteration of the oxidative status of individuals, and positively affect the expression of sexual ornaments at adulthood. 4.We found that vitamin E mediated the effect of early exposure to parasites on levels of oxidative damage at 8weeks of age and reduced the parasite load of individuals at adulthood as predicted. However, the expression of sexual ornaments, immune function and growth were unaffected by either early vitamin E supplementation or manipulation of parasite load. In contrast to the predictions of the PMSS hypothesis, the intensity of sexual ornament expression was not related to either parasite load or oxidative status of individuals (current or long-term). Consequently, there was no evidence that the expression of sexual ornaments provided information on the ability of males to resist infection from parasites. © 2012 The Authors. Functional Ecology © 2012 British Ecological Society. Source

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.2-02 | Award Amount: 3.82M | Year: 2013

The project aims to identify the key semi-natural habitats (SNH), outside and within crops, providing essential ecological services (ES). Vegetation traits will be linked to potential ES provision, case studies will measure actual ES levels and inform models which will show unused opportunities and trade-offs among ES by SNH from habitat to landscape scale. This will be achieved for a range of representative cropping systems and farming intensities in regions dominated by agriculture and matched to the requirements of local and national stakeholders. Surveys will identify key SNH and existing literature will be used to link their vegetation traits to ES provision. ES provision will be measured in existing habitat types (SNH to crop) across economically important cropping systems, farming intensities and four European agro-climatic zones using simple techniques in 16 case studies. A case study is defined by a unique combination of region, crop species, and service. Each case study will concentrate on locally important cropping system and the main ES required. Pollination and pest control have been identified as main ES needed, but also soil fertility, weed control and social services will be considered. The relative socio-economic weight of the studied ecosystem services will be appraised using feedback from national experts using a semi-quantitative method. Data will parameterise spatially explicit models to determine how the vegetation composition, management, shape, area, and placement of SNH in agricultural landscapes affect the distribution of mobile-agent based ecosystem services from farm to landscape level. To investigate synergies and trade-offs in ecological services, multi-criteria analysis will be developed to combine a suite of modules in an integrative modelling framework. Outputs are designed to inform local, national and EU stakeholders on how to improve ES provision from SNH and will include a novel web-based tool.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-02b-2015 | Award Amount: 7.63M | Year: 2016

European crop production is to remain competitive while reducing environmental impacts, requiring development and uptake of effective soil improving cropping systems. The overall aim of SOILCARE is to identify and evaluate promising soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques increasing profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. A trans-disciplinary approach will be used to evaluate benefits and drawbacks of a new generation of soil improving cropping systems, incorporating all relevant bio-physical, socio-economic and political aspects. Existing information from literature and long term experiments will be analysed to develop a comprehensive methodology for assessing performance of cropping systems at multiple levels. A multi-actor approach will be used to select promising soil-improving cropping systems for scientific evaluation in 16 study sites across Europe covering different pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions. Implemented cropping systems will be monitored with stakeholder involvement, and will be assessed jointly with scientists. Specific attention will be paid to adoption of soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques within and beyond the study sites. Results from study sites will be up-scaled to the European level to draw general lessons about applicability potentials of soil-improving cropping systems and related profitability and sustainability impacts, including assessing barriers for adoption at that scale. An interactive tool will be developed for end-users to identify and prioritize suitable soil-improving cropping systems anywhere in Europe. Current policies and incentives will be assessed and targeted policy recommendations will be provided. SOILCARE will take an active dissemination approach to achieve impact from local to European level, addressing multiple audiences, to enhance crop production in Europe to remain competitive and sustainable through dedicated soil care.

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