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The UB participates in the publication of a manual to improve the preservation of steppe birds in the agricultural environment

View of a fallow in spring, in Lleida. Photo: Jordi Bas

View of a fallow in spring, in Lleida. Photo: Jordi Bas

The new study provides with practical tools to improve the management of agricultural exploitations and to protect steppe birds, nowadays the most threatened bird group in the European continent.

The new study provides with practical tools to improve the management of agricultural exploitations and to protect steppe birds, nowadays the most threatened bird group in the European continent.

24/07/2018

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Intensive agriculture and changes in cultivation are factors that caused the decline of a great part of steppe birds in the peninsula. Steppe birds –one of the most threatened bird group at a European scale- are sensitive species to the loss of dry habitats or surfaces like fallows, uncultivated lands between different agricultural crops.

 

Providing practical information on the management of fallows from an agricultural perspective in order to protect steppe birds is the main objective of the new Manual de Gestión de Barbechos para la Conservación de Aves Esteparias, which counts on the participation of the lecturer Santiago Mañosa, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio).

 

The manual, edited by the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), is also signed by the experts David Giralt, Irene Robleño, Francesc SArdà-Palomera and Gerard Bota (CTFC), Manuel B. Morales and Juan Traba, from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), and Joan Estrada, from the Institution for the Study, Management and Recovery of the Ecosystems of Lleida (Egrell). The new study –aimed at farmers, environment managers, NGOs and audience interested in the world of farming ecosystem conservation- has been conducted with the support of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition through Biodiversitat Foundation and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food of Generalitat de Catalunya.

Steppe birds are in danger all over Europe


In the Iberian Peninsula, half of the dry cereal crops take around half of the agricultural exploitations. In this habitat, there are some of the breeding populations of steppe birds that are listed as endangered species all over Europe, such as the little bustard (Tetrax tetrax), the great bustard (Otis tarda) and the Calandra lark (Melanocorypha calandra). Maintaining traditional agricultural systems in these pseudosteppe landscapes is crucial to guarantee the preservation of the most threatened birds, the experts warn.



The new study is based on an comprehensive bibliographical review on the ecology of steppe species and the available management tools so far in the agricultural environment. This information has been extended with field studies that were carried out in the peninsula by researchers from the Forest Science and Technology Center of Catalonia, with the participation of the experts from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the University of Barcelona, and the Group on Terrestrial Ecology of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

Traditional agriculture to preserve biodiversity


The manual has a first bloc which describes the features of pseudosteppe systems and their agricultural function, as well as those aspects related to the agronomic management and the most common management techniques that farmers use.

A second bloc focuses its content on the key role of fallows for the conservation of steppe birds. Also, the authors included a card for each studied species (little bustard, great bustard, calandra lark, short-toed lark, stone curlew, Burchell’s sandgrouse, black-bellied sandgrouse, and the European roller) which provide details on the aspects of their distribution, protection figures, populations, threats, population situation and tendencies in the country, as well as the ecological requirements and specific recommendations to improve the management of fallows for each species.

Last, the third bloc includes chapters related to the current available tools to promote management and conservation of these birds through the fallows (agricultural environmental measures, custody agreements and ZEPA management plans, among others).

 

 

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