The importance of managing linear features in agricultural landscapes for farmland birds
Use of linear features by red-legged partridges in an intensive agricultural landscape: implications for landscape management in farmland
Recommendation: posted 23 January 2024, validated 23 January 2024
Correia, R. (2024) The importance of managing linear features in agricultural landscapes for farmland birds. Peer Community in Ecology, 100580. 10.24072/pci.ecology.100580
European farmland bird populations continue declining at an alarming rate, and some species require urgent action to avoid their demise (Silva et al. 2024). While factors such as climate change and urbanization also play an important role in driving the decline of farmland bird populations, its main driver seems to be linked with agricultural intensification (Rigal et al. 2023). Besides increased pesticide and fertilizer use, agricultural intensification often results in the homogenization of agricultural landscapes through the removal of seminatural linear features such as hedgerows, field margins, and grassy strips that can be beneficial for biodiversity. These features may be particularly important during the breeding season, when breeding farmland birds can benefit from patches of denser vegetation to conceal nests and improve breeding success. It is both important and timely to understand how landscape management can help to address the ongoing decline of farmland birds by identifying specific actions that can boost breeding success.
Perrot et al. 2023 contribute to this effort by exploring how red-legged partridges use linear features in an intensive agricultural landscape during the breeding season. Through a combination of targeted fieldwork and GPS tracking, the authors highlight patterns in home range size and habitat selection that provide insights for landscape management. Specifically, their results suggest that birds have smaller range sizes in the vicinity of traffic routes and seminatural features structured by both herbaceous and woody cover. Furthermore, they show that breeding birds tend to choose linear elements with herbaceous cover whereas non-breeders prefer linear elements with woody cover, underlining the importance of accounting for the needs of both breeding and non-breeding birds. In particular, the authors stress the importance of providing additional vegetation elements such as hedges, grassy strips or embankments in order to increase landscape heterogeneity. These landscape elements are usually found in the vicinity of linear infrastructures such as roads and tracks, but it is important they are available also in separate areas to avoid the risk of bird collision and the authors provide specific recommendations towards this end. Overall, this is an important study with clear recommendations on how to improve landscape management for these farmland birds.
Perrot, C., Séranne, L., Berceaux, A., Noel, M., Arroyo, B., & Bacon, L. (2023) "Use of linear features by red-legged partridges in an intensive agricultural landscape: implications for landscape management in farmland." bioRxiv, ver. 2 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Ecology.
Rigal, S., Dakos, V., Alonso, H., Auniņš, A., Benkő, Z., Brotons, L., ... & Devictor, V. (2023) "Farmland practices are driving bird population decline across Europe." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120.21: e2216573120.
Silva, J. P., Gameiro, J., Valerio, F., & Marques, A. T. (2024) "Portugal's farmland bird crisis requires action." Science 383.6679: 157-157.
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article. The authors declared that they comply with the PCI rule of having no financial conflicts of interest in relation to the content of the article.
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the preprint: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.27.550774
Version of the preprint: 1
Author's Reply, 10 Jan 2024
Decision by Ricardo Correia, posted 08 Nov 2023, validated 09 Nov 2023
I have now received two reviews of your manuscript entitled "Use of linear features by red-legged partridges in an intensive agricultural landscape: implications for landscape management in farmland". Both reviewers find your manuscript interesting and well written, but identify aspects that should be addressed before the manuscript can be recommended. These include clarifying some of the methodological decisions adopted in the study, better highlighting some of the caveats of your analysis to the somewhat restricted sample size and better organizing the code that supports the analyses presented.
My overall assessment is that your manuscript certainly has merit and thus I would like to invite you to address the issues raised by the reviewers in a revised manuscript. Please submit a revised manuscript along with detailed responses to the reviewers for further assessment. I look forward to receiving and reading your revised manuscript in due time.