Landscape-moderated importance of hedges in conserving farmland bird diversity of organic vs. conventional croplands and grasslands

Péter Batáry, Theda Matthiesen, Teja Tscharntke

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Hedges provide important nesting, feeding and sheltering sites for birds in agricultural areas, while organic farming also enhances farmland birds. However, it is little known how the interaction of these local variables (amount of hedges and organic management) with landscape scale variables affects birds. We selected paired conventional and organic winter wheat fields and meadows in each of 10 landscapes in Germany. Birds were surveyed in the fields and in the adjoining hedges. More bird species occurred in organic than in conventional fields regardless of land-use type (wheat fields and meadows). However, hedge length had a much stronger effect on bird richness than organic farmland management. We found an interaction of landscape complexity and hedge length in that hedge length enhanced bird richness only in case of simple landscapes (<17% semi-natural areas within a 500 m radius around the centre of bird survey plots). In more complex landscapes the local effect of hedge length levelled off because bird richness was high even without local hedges. Therefore, adding hedges or introducing organic farming practices should be primarily promoted in simple landscapes, where it really makes a difference for biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2020-2027
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2010



  • Agri-environmental schemes
  • Alauda arvensis
  • Emberiza citrinella
  • Hedge length
  • Landscape complexity
  • Winter wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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