Integrating citizen science and high-resolution land-use data to reveal drivers of farmland bird declines

Farmland birds are declining dramatically across Europe. Declines have largely been driven by an ever-increasing land-use intensity, leading to the loss of breeding and foraging habitat.
Evidence of the causes of declines often comes from detailed field studies (which are usually restricted to small areas) or are based on correlative relationships of trends in bird numbers and land-use variables at national or European scale. Plot-level analyses over larger areas with sufficient sample size are rare.
In this project, we harness structured and unstructured data on bird abundance and population trends from different citizen science sources such as the 1700 plots of the Common Breeding Bird Survey in Germany, from and eBird. We combine these with data on changes in the size of agricultural management units (fields) and crop rotations from remote sensing sources such as Sentinel-2 and the EU agricultural administration and control system (IACS).
Our main aims are (i) to test whether population trends can be improved through model-based integration of citizen science datasets of varying properties, and (ii) to reveal relationships between land-use, crop patterns, agricultural structure and bird abundance in space and time.
The project is embedded in the MonViA approach (National Monitoring of Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes) and funded by the BMEL.

Involved researchers
Claudia Frank, Johannes Kamp

Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten (DDA)
Thünen-Institute of Biodiversity
Thünen-Institute of Rural Studies