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Bio-energy crops could be ruinous to wildlife

Converting farmland to grow bio-energy crops could be ruinous to wildlife, says a study.



Berlin: Converting farmland to grow bio-energy crops could be ruinous to wildlife, says a study.

"The Skylark is an indicator species for agricultural areas because it occupies many habitats...," noted Jan Engel, from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig in Germany, who led the study.

"Improving the habitat suitability for Skylark, accordingly, would improve conservation of natural vegetation, insects, and other ground breeding farmland bird species," added Engel, the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy reported.

Engel and colleagues developed a computer model that evaluated the habitat requirements of Skylark in a variety of bio-energy cultivation scenarios, said a university statement.

They found that bio-energy crop expansion will not harm Skylark populations if field sizes are low, many crop types are present, and small natural areas, known as Integrated Biodiversity Areas, are included within the landscape.

"In ecology it is a widely accepted idea that abundance and occurrence of particular species can broadly indicate the condition of the respective ecosystem," said Engel.

The recent Skylark population decline illustrates the endangerment of farmland ecosystems.

"However, we could show that bio-energy cultivation can get harmonized with Skylark conservation by application of regionally adapted actions," concluded Engel.

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