De Levende Natuur nummer 5 van 2020 (English summary)


DLN 2020-5

Foot drain inundations: stepping stone for improved meadow bird management? 

Dick Melman, Erik Kleyheeg, Tim Visser, Ernst Oosterveld, Maja Roodbergen & Wolf Teunissen 

 Inundation by foot drains is an agrienvironmental intervention that creates a flooded area in grassland parcels, which aims to improve foraging conditions for meadow birds by increasing soil humidity and slowing down the growth rate of the grass. It’s popular amongst farmers, because it can be implemented locally, and the financial compensation is relatively high. However, the effect on meadow birds is not completely clear. In earlier research it was assessed that the density of meadow birds was enhanced. We investigated whether these foot drain inundations also influence the survival of lapwing chicks till fledging. In three grassland polder areas chick survival on fields with and without foot drains were compared. Per family the female and at least one of the chicks were radio tagged. Contrary to our expectations, we found no significant effect on the survival of lapwing chicks. The condition of chicks was poor, indicating a generic problem for the lapwing, which the foot drain inundations do not improve. Moreover, in a country wide analysis, we found a strong indication (satellite NDVI information) that foot drain inundations only partly result in the expected growth suppression of the vegetation. This indicates that the realized habitat improvement is insufficient for the lapwing. Some suggestions are given how to overcome this lack of effect on habitat quality.