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Some Effects of Dutch Elm Disease on the Birds of a Dorset Dairy Farm
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Dec., 1985), pp. 681-691
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403221
Page Count: 11
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(1) The appearance of the British farming landscape has been drastically altered over the last decade by the death and felling of elm trees. This paper attempts to assess the effect of this on bird numbers, distributions and territory sizes on a farm in Dorset, England. (2) Comparison of bird numbers with an index for unaffected farms showed significant differences, but not in the expected direction if elm death is detrimental. (3) There were few indications that elm death caused birds to redistribute among hedges. Conversely, elm felling had a far greater impact and affected species in relation to their use of dead elms. (4) Elm death increased the size of chaffinch territories but not of the other five species examined. However, after elm felling, the territories of great and blue tits were also larger. (5) Elm death alone is probably not of great significance to most bird species (with some notable exceptions), but felling causes reductions in numbers and species diversity. Some species may be more sensitive to operations incidental to felling, e.g. accidental damage to live trees or ditch clearance. (6) The question of how farmland birds react to habitat change is complicated by the interaction of habitat choice and population levels which is poorly understood. In particular, the contribution of breeding success in hedgerows to overall population levels, and to what extent hedgerow populations are maintained by recruitment from elsewhere, deserve special attention.
Journal of Applied Ecology © 1985 British Ecological Society