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1 March 2014 Effects of Integrated Farming on Herbal And Bird Species Diversity in Czech Agricultural Landscapes
Martina Štefanová, Miroslav Šálek
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Negative impacts from application of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture have been observed since the mid-20th century, when their use rapidly increased. This led to decrease in the number of species connected to the agricultural landscape. So-called integrated farming practices are currently being introduced that aim to mitigate negative impacts on the environment and to stabilize the numbers of wild flora and fauna. A number of studies have examined the positive influence of integrate and organic farming as modern agricultural practices in a European perspective. The positive impact of these practices is particularly evident in plants and invertebrates studied in Italy, Austria, Germany and the UK, for example. There is little such data from Central and Eastern Europe, however, even as the region has specific environmental conditions due especially to the more moderate impact of agriculture there during the second half of the 20th century In this study, we compared the numbers of herbal and bird species on crop fields and meadows managed with conventional versus integrated systems in Southern and Central Bohemia, the Czech Republic. Our analysis included also the effects of land parcel size, position within these parcels and presence of other habitat elements (ditch, tree, field roads, dunghill, field margins — boundaries, bushes, fallow area) in the vicinity of study plots. We found that herbal communities were significantly more species-rich on lands with integrated farming and similar results were obtained in the case of birds, except there was a non-significant effect of integrated farming on bird species richness in meadows. In addition, the species richness of plants decreased as land parcel size increased. In conclusion, herbal and bird communities were shown to benefit more distinctively from integrated farming in Central Europe, where this effect is not considered unambiguous due to the higher overall habitat heterogeneity and historically lower burdening of farmland with pesticides and fertilizers. The results support the idea that it makes sense even here to introduce integrated forms of agricultural practice.

Martina Štefanová and Miroslav Šálek "Effects of Integrated Farming on Herbal And Bird Species Diversity in Czech Agricultural Landscapes," Polish Journal of Ecology 62(1), 147-162, (1 March 2014).
Received: 1 September 2013; Published: 1 March 2014
agricultural intensification
bird communities
conventional agriculture
integrated farming
plant communities
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