Declines of West European farmland birds have been associated with intensive agricultural practices, while in Central and Eastern European countries grasslands still harbour a diverse and unique bird community. However, in these countries comparative studies on the effects of agricultural intensity on biodiversity are virtually missing. We compared bird communities of paired extensively and intensively grazed cattle pastures in three different regions of the Hungarian Great Plain. The influence of grazing intensity, landscape and regional effects were tested on the abundance and species richness of two ecological groups of bird species (grassland and non-grassland birds), as well as on the abundance of the three commonest grassland bird species (Skylark, Yellow wagtail, Corn bunting) in linear mixed models. We found significant effects of grazing intensity on the abundance of grassland birds, which were more abundant on the extensive sites, whereas no effects were found on non-grassland birds. This could be explained by a closer dependence of grassland birds on grasslands for nesting and foraging, whereas non-grassland birds only used grasslands opportunistically for foraging. Landscape effect was shown on grassland bird abundance, but not on non-grassland birds. The regions did affect only the species richness of grassland birds. At species level, the effect of management was significant for the three commonest grassland species, which were more abundant on the extensive fields in all regions. Additionally, on Skylark abundance landscape and regional effects were also shown. These findings suggest that conservation of biodiversity in agricultural systems requires the consideration of landscape perspective to apply the most adequate management.
- Corn bunting
- Species richness
- Yellow wagtail
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation