European farm scale habitat descriptors for the evaluation of biodiversity

Felix Herzog, Gisela Lüscher, Michaela Arndorfer, Marion Bogers, Katalin Balázs, R. G. H. Bunce, Peter Dennis, E. Falusi, J. K. Friedel, Ilse R. Geijzendorffer, Tiziano Gomiero, Philippe Jeanneret, Gerardo Moreno, M.-L. Oschatz, Maurizio Paoletti, Jean-Pierre Sarthou, Siyka Stoyanova, Erich Szerencsits, Sebastian Wolfrum, Wendy FjellstadDebra Bailey

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Habitat descriptors are cost effective biodiversity indicators demanded by stakeholders and required for regional and global biodiversity monitoring. We mapped 195 farms of different types in twelve case study regions across Europe and tested 18 habitat descriptors for scientific validity, information content and ease of interpretation. We propose a core set consisting of:
(i)four descriptors to measure structural composition and configuration of farms (Habitat Richness, Habitat Diversity, Patch Size, and Linear Habitats)
(ii)three descriptors addressing specific habitat types (Crop Richness, Shrub Habitats, and Tree Habitats)
(iii)one interpreted descriptor (Semi-Natural Habitats).
As a set, the descriptors make it possible to evaluate the habitat status of a farm and to track changes occurring due to modified land use and/or management, including agri-environmental measures. The farm habitat maps can provide ground truth information for regional and global biodiversity monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-217
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date23 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017


  • agricultural biodiversity
  • agri-environment scheme
  • ecological focus area
  • essential biodiversity variables
  • landscape diversity
  • monitoring
  • policy evaluation


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