Regional land-use and local management create scale-dependent ‘landscapes of fear’ for a common woodland bird

Robin C. Whytock*, Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, Kevin Watts, Nicholas A. Macgregor, Eilidh Call, Jennifer A. Mann, Kirsty J. Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Context: Land-use change and habitat fragmentation are well known drivers of biodiversity declines. In forest birds, it has been proposed that landscape change can cause increased predation pressure that leads to population declines or community change. Predation can also have non-lethal effects on prey, such as creating ‘landscapes of fear’. However, few studies have simultaneously investigated the relative contribution of regional land-use and local management to creating ‘landscapes of fear’. Objectives: To quantify the relative contribution of regional land-use and local management to the ‘landscape of fear’ in agricultural landscapes. Methods: Bioacoustic recorders were used to quantify Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes alarm call rates in 32 naturally replicated broadleaf woodlands located in heterogeneous agricultural landscapes. Results: Alarm call rates (the probability of an alarm per 10 min of audio) were positively correlated with the amount of agricultural land (arable or pasture) within 500 m of a woodland (effect size of 1) and were higher when livestock were present inside a woodland (effect size of 0.78). The amount of woodland and urban land cover in the landscape also had positive but weak effects on alarm call rates. Woodlands with gamebird management had fewer alarm calls (effect size of − 0.79). Conclusions: We found that measures of both regional land-use and local management contributed to the ‘landscape of fear’ in agricultural landscapes. To reduce the impact of anthropogenic activities on ‘fear’ levels (an otherwise natural ecological process), land-managers should consider limiting livestock presence in woodlands and creating traditional ‘buffer strips’ (small areas of non-farmed land) at the interface between woodland edges and agricultural fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-620
Number of pages14
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume35
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Gamebird management
  • Livestock
  • Predation risk
  • WrEN project

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