Birrer, S., J. Zellweger-Fischer, S. Stoeckli, F. Korner-Nievergelt, O. Balmer, M. Jenny & L. Pfiffner (2014)

Biodiversity at the farm scale: A novel credit point system.

Further information

Agricult. Ecosyst. & Environment 197: 195–203



Farmland biodiversity has often been assessed, but seldom at the farm scale, although it is ultimately the farm level at which decisions are taken. Therefore, a credit point system (CPS) was developed based on 32 options known to enhance farmland biodiversity. It was verified whether the resulting CPS score and farm-scale biodiversity are correlated considering four indicator groups (plants, grasshoppers, butterflies and birds) on 133 farms in the Swiss lowland. We further compared the suitability of the CPS score in reflecting farm-scale biodiversity to three alternative habitat measures, i.e. the amount of ecological compensation areas (ECAs, i.e. agri-environment scheme options), ECAs with a high ecological quality and valuable semi-natural elements (SNEs).
Species richness and density of plants, grasshoppers, butterflies and birds were analysed, for ‘all species’, stenotopic farmland species and ‘red-listed’ species within each group, resulting in 19 biodiversity measures (dependent variables). Basic models were built, first without, then by including a range of environmental variables and compared to models expanded by the CPS score or one of the three habitat measures (ECAs, high-quality ECAs or SNEs). For each of the 19 biodiversity measures, the CPS score and the three habitat measures were ranked by how much their inclusion improved the basic model, to determine which measure best captured biodiversity at the farm scale.
We demonstrate that the CPS score reflects farm-scale biodiversity. For 13 out of 19 biodiversity measures, models including the CPS score performed better than those without. The CPS score was found to be the most suitable predictor for a fast and efficient assessment of farm-scale biodiversity, which makes it suitable for use in large scale agri-environment schemes.
Keywords: Agri-environment scheme, Biodiversity indicator, Birds, Butterflies, Ecological compensation areas, Farmland, Grasshoppers, Plants