Experimental evidence that ground‐disturbance benefits Woodlark Lullula arborea

Robert Hawkes, Jennifer Smart, Andy Brown, Helen Jones, Paul Dolman

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To determine whether ground-disturbance increased Woodlark Lullula arborea abundance, we examined responses over 3 years to four treatments varying in establishment method (shallow- or deep-cultivated) and complexity (homogeneous or ‘complex-mosaics’ comprising fallow and recently cultivated subplots), plus controls, replicated across the largest lowland grass-heath in the UK. Abundance increased through the study and was higher on plots closer to woodland and across all treatments. Within complex-mosaics, Woodlark preferentially used recently cultivated subplots over 1- or 2-year-old fallows. Regardless of treatment detail, providing suitable foraging habitat within c. 45 m of woodland, through annual ground-disturbance, can increase Woodlark abundance within lowland grass-heaths characterized by closed swards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • conservation management
  • semi-natural habitat
  • lowland heathland
  • grass-heath

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