An article co-authored by Jason Townsend, supervisor of introductory laboratories, was recently published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.
“Field-scale habitat complexity enhances avian conservation and avian-mediated pest-control services in an intensive agricultural crop” presented the results of the authors’ study of “the relationship between on-farm avian conservation measures and the potential provisioning of pest-control services by birds.”
They used an “exclusion experiment to test the effects of field- and landscape-scale habitat complexity on avian-provisioned pest-control services and assessed avian abundance and diversity across 32 conventional alfalfa (Medicago sativa) fields in winter and early spring in California.”
The study, conducted over two winters, showed that foraging birds reduced insect pest abundance and that the creation of a bird-friendly environment near fields increased the bird population, thereby decreasing the number of harmful insects.
The researchers concluded “that relatively simple conservation measures in intensively managed farming landscapes, such as planting small trees along a field edge, can result in increased abundance and diversity of over-wintering birds, with direct benefits to farmers through increased avian-mediated pest-control services.”
The article was co-authored with Townsend’s colleagues from The Nature Conservancy and the University of California, Davis.