Capsule: Despite negative effects of inorganic fertilizer on weeds and invertebrates in cereal fields, impacts on bird usage were weak and non-linear. Aim: To assess the effects of inorganic fertilizer application to winter cereals on breeding-season usage by farmland birds. Methods: We measured bird usage of winter-sown cereal fields across a gradient of inorganic fertilizer inputs and tested for influences of management intensity and availability of semi-natural habitat on species richness and abundance of farmland birds. Results: Avian species richness and bird abundance were unrelated to fertilizer inputs, and declined at higher levels of total vegetation cover. Sky Lark abundance increased, while Yellow Wagtail counts declined with the extent of semi-natural habitat. Sky Lark abundance increased with vegetation cover and peaked at an intermediate level of weed species richness. Yellow Wagtail counts peaked at intermediate levels of fertilizer inputs. Conclusions: Compared with much of western Europe, cereal production in central Hungary is characterized by modest fertilizer inputs and large areas of semi-natural habitat. There was little evidence that increased applications of fertilizer are likely to have negative impacts on farmland birds, although increased application might reduce habitat suitability for Yellow Wagtails. Loss of semi-natural habitat is likely to have negative impacts on Sky Larks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation