ScienceDaily
Published Setember 29, 2011

Weeds, which are widely deemed as a nuisance plant, are vital to the existence of many farmland species according to a new University of Hull study published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Since many weeds produce flowers and seed, they are an integral part of our ecosystem and together with other crop and non-crop seeds found on farms, they provide food for over 330 species of insects, birds and animals.

Scientists at the Universities of Hull and Bristol examined the distribution of berries and soil-surface seeds collected over an entire year. They built up the first picture of its kind showing which farmland habitats are the most important seed producers and how the seed resources change in different seasons.

Whilst considerable research has linked agricultural intensification with dramatic declines of seed-feeding birds, surprisingly little is known about the wider importance of seeds for other farmland animals, especially insects. Moreover, understanding the dynamics of farmland seed food resources for species of conservation concern is of considerable research interest.

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