Birds - some good news, and some bad

4 March 2015, Comments Comments Off on Birds – some good news, and some bad

11101519 Minet LinnetConservation efforts have often focussed on protecting rare species that are most at threat of extinction with less attention given to the more common species. Common species often have a larger impact on the structure and character of their ecosystem as there are more individuals. A study using data from Birdlife International and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme has examined how the abundance and biomass of 144 bird species changed between 1980 and 2009 across 25 European Countries. They found that the number of birds declined by 20% and almost 90% of the losses were from the 36 most common species. Many of the common species that declined were farmland birds. Agricultural intensification is likely to be among the main causes of this decline.

However, in the UK, early results from the farmland bird count look positive and include a number of sightings of rare species. 117 bird types were recorded with 14 at-risk species including linnet, yellowhammer, starling, and lapwing. But numbers of birds including grey partridge, turtle dove and starling are down more than 85% since the 1970s with the decline blamed on intensive farming methods.

Sources: BBC website Feb 2015, Science for Environment Policy newsletter Jan 2015

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