Recent PhD studies at the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast have asked whether agri-environment schemes are effective in maintaining and enhancing farm biodiversity.
Upland grassland agri‐environment schemes in the Antrim Hills changed soil organisms boosting (Oribatid) mite and reducing springtail (Collembola) numbers. Both are detritivores associated with decomposition of leaf litter so changes in their numbers has the potential to change their ecological function impacting soils:
Journal of Applied Ecology (2021)
Download PDF • 1.05MB
Agri-Environment Scheme management increased flying insect biodiversity by 5% mostly affecting detritivores (like fungus gnats) and predators (like adult house flies, dung flies and long-legged fly):
Agriculture Ecosystems and the Environment 2021
Download PDF • 2.55MB
Ponds installed in grassland as part of agri-environment scheme measures differ from natural ponds in many key respects (for example, size, depth etc.) but despite not replicating natural environments they have higher aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate richness and abundance meaning they are of high conservation value in the farmed landscape:
Journal of Applied Ecology (2020)
Download PDF • 1.24MB
Research like this is essential in evaluating Agri-Environment Scheme measures ensuring we can focus on results-based approaches that maintain and enhance wildlife tackling the current biodiversity crisis.
These projects were supervised by Dr Neil Reid, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology at Queen's University Belfast whose research interests include farming and biodiversity from hedgerows and carbon to badgers and bovine tuberculosis by way of grassland insects, birds and mammals. [Read more here]