Nav: Home

Ecological vineyards help protecting bird population in the environment

March 06, 2019

Ecological farmlands help protecting bird populations and reducing the effects of global change on the environment, according to a study published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment by the experts Joan Real, Àlex Rollan and Antonio Hernández-Matías, from the Conservation Biology Group of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio).

According to the study, which counted on the support from Torres Family, from Vilafranca del Penedès (Spain), the ecological viticulture increases the abundance and amount of species of farmland birds, and favours the insectivore bird populations that help the natural control of plagues in ecological crops. This agricultural practise helps improving the resilience of farmland birds -which are especially sensitive to environmental changes- towards the effects of global warming.

Farmland birds: at risk due intensive agriculture and climate change

Changes in agricultural production systems -from traditional to intensive- generated several environmental impacts on the environment, such as the loss of biodiversity. At the moment, intensive agricultural exploitation in Europe caused the loss of millions of farmland birds, which are also affected by global change.

In this context, the practice of ecological viticulture has spread over the last years in the sector of the vineyards, one of the most traditional cultures in the country. In Catalonia, this sector represents the first important ecological crop in the agricultural field, and one of every four vineyards has its origins in ecological agricultural production. Without insecticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers, this practice includes a series of ecological and integrated techniques (mechanical control of plagues, etc.) in a context of a growing social interest for sustainable practices with biodiversity and the environment.

What is the impact of ecological crops in farmland birds?

The beneficial effects of the ecological crops of vineyards on several organisms were known from years ago. "However -says Àlex Rollan, first author of the study-, there wasn't much information on their real impact in the community of farmland birds".

In this context, from 2014 to 2015, UB-IRBio experts created bird censuses in a total of thirty-three vineyard parcels -designation of Origin Penedès- to see how the practice of ecological agriculture affected the community of farmland birds -insectivore ones mostly- and the most vulnerable species to climate change.

The new study describes for the first time the positive impact of the ecological viticulture on the abundance and amount of species of insectivore birds in the Mediterranean vineyards. The presence of herbaceous cover -a growing practice in European vineyards- has a beneficial effect on insectivore birds, in particular in spring and other seasons when people work on ecological crops, according to the study carried out by the Conservation Biology Group (UB-IRBio).

A more environment-friendly agricultural production

Birds are sensitive to changes and impacts that occur in the ecosystems worldwide. "Therefore, they are perfect bioindicators, since they show the state of conservation of natural systems"; says Joan Real, head of the team of Conservation Biology, linked to the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology and IRBio. "Knowing the factors that can interact with these bioindicators helps us getting information to improve the management of natural habitats and environmental sustainability", notes Joan Real.

The new study, published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment provides practical information for the sector of ecological viticulture and will help shape a management for a "more sustainable agricultural production regarding biodiversity conservation in the rural environment, and in particular, those birds that are endangered due the agricultural intensification and climate change", notes Antonio Hernández-Matías.

Since 1992, the Biology Conservation Group (UB-IRBio) and Torres Family Foundation, from the company with the same name, have launched several research projects and initiatives in the field of conservation of natural heritage and the design of new management tools for the conservation of biodiversity with a global and efficient perspective.

University of Barcelona

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".