SA Ordenamento e Gestao de Recursos Naturais

Lisbon, Portugal

SA Ordenamento e Gestao de Recursos Naturais

Lisbon, Portugal

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Reino L.,University of Lisbon | Reino L.,SA Ordenamento e Gestao de Recursos Naturais | Reino L.,University of Porto | Porto M.,University of Lisbon | And 11 more authors.
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment | Year: 2010

In Iberian cereal-steppes, decoupling of payments from current production levels through the Single Farm Payment raised concerns regarding the potential for land abandonment and replacement of sheep by cattle, with eventual negative consequences for declining grassland birds. This study addressed this issue by analysing the responses of five grassland bird species of conservation concern to spatial land use gradients, which are expected to reflect changes potentially associated with the CAP reform. Our results show that both habitat fragmentation and grazing regimes were major drivers of breeding bird densities, though responses to these factors were species-specific. Thekla larks were most abundant in landscapes with small grassland patches and high edge density, whereas calandra larks were abundant only in large expanses of continuous open farmland habitat. Little bustard and short-toed lark densities declined in highly fragmented landscapes, but they appeared to tolerate or even benefit from low to moderate levels of open habitat fragmentation. Corn buntings were little affected by landscape patterns. At the field scale, little bustard and corn bunting densities were highest in fields grazed by cattle, whereas short-toed larks were mostly associated with sheep pastures. Short-toed larks and Thekla larks were most abundant in old fallow fields where cattle was largely absent, whereas corn buntings showed the inverse pattern. These results confirm the view that the same agricultural policies may be favourable for some species of conservation concern but detrimental to others, and so they cannot be assumed to bring uniform conservation benefits. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Reino L.,University of Lisbon | Reino L.,Ordenamento e Gestao de Recursos Naturais SA | Reino L.,University of Porto | Porto M.,University of Lisbon | And 5 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2010

Afforestation of agricultural land is increasingly used to deliver environmental benefits, but their effects on biodiversity remain poorly understood. This paper tests the hypothesis that afforestation changes predation processes in surrounding farmland, examining how the characteristics and landscape context of forest plantations affect predator (birds and mammalian carnivores) and key prey (rabbits and hares) abundances, and bird nest predation rates in Iberian cereal-steppes. Lagomorphs and predators were surveyed in fallow fields around 50 forest plantations, where predation rates were estimated using artificial nests set at 0, 100, 200 and 300 m from the forest edge. Recent plantations structurally similar to sparse (oak) or dense (pine) shrublands were associated with the highest hare and rabbit abundances, respectively, whereas both species avoided landscapes with high eucalyptus cover. In contrast, mature eucalyptus plantations showed strong positive effects on typical nest predators such as corvids and carnivores. Open farmland fragmentation favoured the abundance of lagomorphs and carnivores. Despite these effects and the high predation rate on artificial nests (49%), there was neither evidence for increased predation near plantation edges nor higher predation in fields with more lagomorphs and predators. However, predation tended to increase with cover by young oak plantations and overall forest plantation cover, to decrease with eucalyptus cover at both the local and landscape scales, and to peak in landscapes with intermediate edge densities. These results suggest that afforestation may have strong effects on bird nest predation rates by changing landscape composition and configuration, rather than by inducing local increases in predator and prey populations. Nevertheless, increased abundances of generalist predators associated with forest plantations may still be considered of conservation concern, thus supporting the recommendation for strongly restricting afforestation in areas important for open grassland birds. Where this is unavoidable, monitoring should be undertaken to provide early signals for bird population declines associated with predator increases, eventually triggering conservation action such as predator exclusion or removal. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Santana J.,University of Porto | Reino L.,University of Porto | Stoate C.,Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust | Borralho R.,Ordenamento e Gesta o de Recursos Naturais SA | And 11 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2014

Evaluating the effectiveness of conservation funding is crucial for correct allocation of limited resources. Here we used bird monitoring data to assess the effects of long-term conservation investment in a Natura 2000 (N2000) bird protection area (PA), which during two decades benefited from protection regulations, conservation projects, and agri-environment schemes. Variation between 1995-1997 and 2010-2012 in richness and abundance of flagship (Otis tarda, Tetrax tetrax, and Falco naumanni) and specialized fallow field species were more favorable (i.e., increased more or declined less) inside the PA than in a nearby control area. However, the reverse was found for total bird species, farmland, ground-nesting and steppe species, species associated to ploughed fields, and species of European conservation concern. Enhancing the effectiveness of conservation investment in N2000 farmland may require a greater focus on the wider biodiversity alongside that currently devoted to flagship species, as well as improved matching between conservation and agricultural policies. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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