Agro-biodiversity evaluation in Sicilian farmlands entered into agri-environment scheme agreements

Massa B., Siracusa M.

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To test if the application of Rural Development Regulation 1257/1999 played a possible role in maintaining or increasing biodiversity, monitoring of the avifauna has been carried out in 2004-2005. On the whole, 836 point counts were carried out, 418 in spring and 418 in winter, evenly shared between 16 farmlands entered into F2 and F4 agri-environmental measures, and an equal number of “not enhanced” farmlands, which represented test-farms and control-farms, respectively. Between bird frequencies within test-farms and control-farms statistical differences have been dected; farms entered into agri-environmental measures showed, on average, higher values of species, frequency of occurrence and “priority” species than controls, stressing a general issue: within enhanced farmlands bird communities are richer in species and priority species number. A remarkable species turnover between spring and winter communities has been observed. This may be due to farmland management which eventually influenced in some way the presence of more ecologically exigent species, through the seasons.