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Flight over fields; bats and birds in Mediterranean agricultural landscapes

Authors: Ian Falzon, ,
  • Institute: Institute of Applied Sciences
  • Symposium: Environmental and Cultural Sustainability
  • Day: 2 , Session: 1 , Location: Conference Hall 1
  • Session Type: Short 10 min (Early stage research) , Start: 10:20 , End: 10:40

Abstract

This project aims at establishing a preliminary biodiversity inventory determining which species of bats and birds frequent the most common typologies of agricultural land during Autumn and Winter.

Bird monitoring has the potential to be an effective indicator of the health of the environment and a tool for assessing the environmental policy process and the effectiveness of conservation measures. In Europe there are 500 wild bird species, and 32% of these species are not in a good conservation status. The Directive mentions the protection of habitats for endangered and migratory species, part of which are agricultural in nature. In the EU, various monitoring programmes and yearly bird surveys such as the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) and the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), are carried out and help achieve a good management of species and habitats. Monitoring which Malta has yet to fully fledge.

Bats are a vastly diverse group of species that have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including urban and other anthropogenic habitats such as agricultural land. This study aims to determine which of the resident bat species frequent agricultural land and if there are distinct preferences towards a certain type of landscape.

This research hopes to increase the awareness on the relationship between avifauna and Chiroptera and local agriculture. Perhaps most importantly this study will be significant for farmers and their industry by recognising the role they have not only as food producers but as stewards of the environment. A value which is very important to consider in an age when the property and land prices are at a steep incline and farmers are finding it ever harder to justify their land use and role.

Furthermore, it starts shedding light on beneficial behaviours such as natural pest control, cross-pollination and seed propagation amongst others.