Birds on farms
Intensification of agricultural practices has been identified as a major threat to biodiversity, and conservationists advocate wildlife-friendly farming practices to offset the negative impact of farming on wildlife. Importantly, some birds provide farmers with a natural form of pest control, and the loss of biodiversity due to agricultural intensification may therefore lead to an increased reliance on chemical inputs such as pesticides. The few studies that have examined pest control services by birds have shown that by consuming insect pests, some avian species can reduce insect damage to crops and increase yields. However, birds themselves can sometimes be pests by foraging on crops, and farmer efforts to drive birds from fields can compound the detrimental impact of agricultural intensification on wildlife.
We work on research to quantify both the good (pest-control services) and the bad (crop damage) effects of birds on farms, to understand how habitat management on farms and across farming landscapes affects avian diversity and associated benefits/costs, and to understand farmer perceptions of birds.
If you are a prospective student interested in working on avian conservation and ecosystem service questions, particularly in New Zealand, get in touch!
Birds on Farms projects
Birds on Farms project news
Click on the stories below to read recent news on this topic