Monitoring Farm-Scale Habitat Diversity: A practical methodology for scientists and stakeholders

Authors and Affiliations: 

D. Bailey1, Y. Ammari2, S. Angelova3, M. Arndorfer4, K. Balázs5, A. Báldi6, M.M.B. Bogers7, R.G.H. Bunce7,8, J.-P. Choisis9, P. Dennis10, T. Dyman11, S. Eiter12, W. Fjellstad12, M.D. Fraser10, T. Frank4, J.K. Friedel4, S. Garchi2, I. Geijzendorffer7,13, T. Gomiero14, G. Jerkovich10, F. Herzog1, P. Jeanneret1, R.H.G. Jongman7, M. Kainz15, E. Kakudidi16, E. Kelemen5, R. Kölliker1, N. Kwikiriza16, A. Kovács-Hostyánszki6, L. Last1, G. Lüscher1, G. Moreno17, C. Nkwiine16, J. Opio16, M.-L.Oschatz4, M.G. Paoletti14, P. Pointereau18, J.-P. Sarthou19, 20, M.K. Schneider1, N. Siebrecht15, D. Sommaggio14, S. Stoyanova3, S. Targetti21, D. Viaggi21, S. Wolfrum15 , S. Yashchenko11


  1. Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, Reckenholzstrasse 191, Zurich 8046, Switzerland.
  2. Institut National de Recherches in Génie Rural, Eaux et Forêt, BP N°10, Ariana 2080, Tunisia.
  3. Institute of Plant Genetic Resources K. Malkov, Sadovo 4122, Bulgaria.
  4. University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences, Gregor Mendel Strasse 33, Vienna 1180, Austria.
  5. Institute of Environmental & Landscape Management, Szent Istvan University, Páter Károly u. 1, Gödöllö 2100, Hungary.
  6. MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Alkotmány u. 2-4, Vácrátót 2163, Hungary
  7. Alterra, Wageningen UR, Droevedaalse steeg 3, Wageningen 6700 AA, The Netherlands.
  8. Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreuzwaldi 5, Tartu 51041, Estonia
  9. INRA, UMR 1201 Dynafor, Chemin de Borde-Rouge, Castanet-Tolosan 31326, France.
  10. Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3FG, United Kingdom.
  11. Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University, Soborna sq. 8/1, Bila Tserkva 09117, Ukraine.
  12. Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Raveien 9, Ås 1431, Norway.
  13. Institut de Recherche en Sciences et Technologie pour l'Environnement et l'Agriculture,  Aix-en-Provence 13182 , France
  14. Department of Biology, Padova University, via U. Bassi 58/b, Padova 35121, Italy.
  15. Centre of Life and Food Science, Technical University of Munich, Alte Akademie 12, Freising 85354, Germany.
  16. School of Agriculture, Makarere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.
  17. Forestry School, University of Extremadura, Av. Virgen del Puerto 2, Plasencia 10600, Spain.
  18. SOLAGRO, Initiatives and Innovations for Energy, Agriculture and Environment, 75 Voie du TOEC, Toulouse 31076, France.
  19. Toulouse University; ENSAT; UMR 1248 Agir, Castanet Tolosan 31326, France.
  20. INRA, UMR 1248 Agir, Chemin de Borde-Rouge, Castanet Tolosan 31326, France.
  21. Department of Agricultural Science, University of Bologna, viale Fanin, 50, Bologna 40127, Italy.

Farm habitat diversity is an important component of biodiversity. Its promotion may act as a universal measure for restoring and conserving agricultural biodiversity (Benton et al., 2003).  However, despite huge monetary investments at the farm scale, e.g. through Agri-environment schemes (AES), little is known about farm level habitat diversity. Baseline information is required.

This paper introduces a methodology suitable for measuring and monitoring habitat diversity at the farm scale. It also highlights the challenges. The research formed part of the EU FP7 project BioBio (; Herzog et al., 2012). Firstly, the extent of the farm and what constitutes farm habitat must be clearly defined. Careful decisions are essential as a farm is a legal/economic, rather than ecological, unit, consists of various farmed (e.g. arable fields) and unfarmed habitat (e.g. hedgerows) and is often non-contiguous. Here, clear guidelines were identified for both the definition of a farm and farm habitat. Secondly, an easy, practical and repeatable mapping method applicable to the farm scale must be applied. Here a standardised and tested mapping procedure for European landscapes (EBONE, was adapted to the farm scale (Dennis et al., 2012). Finally, indicators need to be selected and calculated to survey and monitor habitat diversity. Such indicators must be appropriate at the farm scale, scientifically sound, geographically appropriate, and both relevant and useful for stakeholders and scientists. Here, an interactive two-step indicator-filtering approach was applied. The first step consisted of an exhaustive literature review and evaluation of potential indicators by scientist working groups (Dennis et al., 2010). Indicators that passed the scientist filtering process were submitted to a Stakeholder Advisory Board who selected a set of candidate indicators (Pointereau and Langevin, 2012).  In a second step the indicators were tested in 12 European case studies. These indicators were then further evaluated and those unsuitable discarded (Jeanneret et al., 2012). Following a further audit by the Stakeholder Advisory Board a core set of habitat indicators was developed (Table 1). Here the indicator core set enabled baseline data on habitat diversity to be gathered at the farm scale. They also identified differences in habitat diversity between farms, farm types and case study regions.



Benton, T.G., Vickery, J.D., Wilson, J.D. (2003) Farmland biodiversity: is habitat heterogeneity the key?  Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 18 182-188.


Dennis, P., Bogers, M.M.B., Bunce, R.G.H., Herzog, F., Jeanneret, P. (2012) Biodiversity in organic and low-input farming systems. Handbook for recording key indicators. Wageningen, Alterra, Alterra-Report 2308. 92 pp. (accessed 22.03.13).


Dennis, P., Arndorfer, M., Balazs, K., Bailey, D., Boller, B., Bunce, R.G.H., Centeri, C., Corporaal, A., Cuming, D., Deconchat, M., Dramstad, W., Elyakime, B., Falusi, E., Fjellstad, W., Fraser, M.D., Freyer, B., Friedel, J.K., Geijzendorffer, I, Jongman, R., Kainz, M., Marcos, G.M., Gomiero, T., Grausgruber-Groger, S., Herzog, F., Hofer, G., Jeanneret, P., Kelemen, E., Kolliker, R., Moakes, S.R., Nicholas, P., Paoletti, M.G., Podmaniczky, L., Pointereau, P., Sarthou, J.-P., Siebrecht, N., Sommaggio, D., Stoyanova, S.D., Teufelbauer, N., Viaggi, D., Vialatte, A., Walter, T., Widmer, F., Wolfrum, S. (2009) Conceptual foundations for biodiversity indicator selection for organic and low-input farming systems. Deliverable 2.1 of the EU FP7 Project BioBio. (accessed 22.03.13).


EBONE (no date) (accessed 22.03.13).


Herzog, F., K. Balázs, P. Dennis, J. Friedel, I. R. Geijzendorffer, P. Jeanneret, M. Kainz, P. Pointeraeau. 2012. Biodiversity Indicators for European Farming Systems. A Guidebook. Forschungsanstalt Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, Zürich. (accessed 22.03.13).


Jeanneret, P., Lüscher; G., Schneider, M., Arndorfer, M., Last, L.,Wolfrum, S., Balázs, K., Bailey, D., Bogers, M.M.B, Dennis, P., Eiter, S., Fjellstad, W., Friedel, J.K., Geijzendorffer, I.R., Gomiero, T., Herzog, F.,  Jongman, R.H.G., Kainz, M., Kovács, A., Kölliker, R., Moreno, G.,  Paoletti, M., Sarthou, J-P., Stoyanova, S. (2012) Report on scientific analysis containing an assessment of performance of candidate farming and biodiversity indicators and an indication about the cost of indicator measurements. Deliverable 4.1 of the EU FP7 Project BioBio. (accessed 22.03.13).


Pointereau, P., Langevin, B. (2012) Report on the contribution of the stakeholders to the selection of the biodiversity indicators for organic and low input farming systems. Deliverable 7.1(3) of the EU FP7 Project BioBio. (accessed 22.03.13)