Bird conservation and ecosystem services on small diversified farms
People in the northeastern U.S. are increasingly interested in promoting sustainability with respect to their food and lifestyles, and this interest has led to a rapid increase in the number of small diversified farms in the region. These small farms often encompass more natural and semi-natural habitats, in the form of fallow areas, hedgerows, and trees, than do larger intensive farming operations. The habitat these farms provide has the potential to support bird species of concern, including declining shrubland and grassland species that are the object of increasing conservation attention. At the same time, most of these bird species are insectivorous during the nesting season and prey on some of the insect pests that infest vegetable crops. Forest Service researchers are counting birds on farms in the Connecticut River Valley, relating bird abundance to habitat features, to provide farmers with guidelines on how to enhance priority bird species populations on their farms. Future research will investigate the effect birds have on insect pest populations and damage to produce. Knowledge gained from this study will help farmers increase the environmental sustainability of their operations, and since sustainability is of growing interest to the region's population, this will translate to increased sales, market share, and ultimately the economic well-being of the farming sector of the region.
Forest Service Partners