Master thesis: "habitat preferences of wintering and breeding birds in intensively managed fruit tree plantations"
For my master thesis, I studied landscape and field scale habitat preferences of birds in intensive fruit cultures in Valais. We surveyed five times 38 sites between Sierre and Martigny in winter and spring.
At landscape scale, results highlight the negative effects of intensive fruit cultures on bird diversity and the importance of semi-natural structures such as hedges, bushes, forest patches, isolated trees and marshes for bird diversity and abundance. At field scale, analyses show a preference for extensive plantations with older trees. Food availability is a priority for field selection with an effect of leftover fruits in winter and an effect of accessibility depending on vegetation height and density in spring.
Following these results, we recommend to preserve and create semi-natural structures and promote extensive management in order to improve the situation for birds.