• Data file: confusion matrices from pilot study of methodology for the development of farmland habitat reports for sustainability assessments

      Finn, John; Moran, Patrick; Teagasc; 6793 (2020-03-09)
      This Excel data file provides the confusion matrices associated with a publication in the Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research. This file contains four worksheets: 'High vs Low matrix', 'Level II matrix', 'Level III matrix' and 'Level III matrix (HH)'. Each worksheet presents the area of different habitat classes (as in Fossitt 2000) as determined by a desk-based study of remote sensing imagery, and compared with area of habitat classes as determined by a field-based survey (ground-truthing). The publication by John A. Finn and Patrick Moran is titled 'A pilot study of methodology for the development of farmland habitat reports for sustainability assessments'.
    • A pilot study of methodology for the development of farmland habitat reports for sustainability assessments

      Finn, John; Moran, P.; Bord Bia (TeagascCompuscript Ltd, 2020-11-21)
      The inclusion of farm maps of habitat features is becoming an urgent requirement for assessments of farm-scale sustainability and for compliance or benchmarking with national and international sustainability certification and accreditation schemes. Traditional methods of habitat assessment rely strongly on field-based surveys, which are logistically demanding and relatively costly. We describe and investigate a process that relies on information technology to develop a scalable method that can be applied across multiple farms to reduce the significant logistical challenges and financial costs of traditional habitat surveys. A key impediment to the routine development of farm habitat maps is the lack of information on the type of habitats that occur on a land parcel. Within a pilot project comprising 187 farms, we developed and implemented a process for creating farm habitat reports and investigate the accuracy of visual interpretation of satellite imagery by an ecologist aiming to identify habitat types. We generated customised farm reports that included a colour-coded farm habitat map and habitat information (type, area, relative wildlife importance). Visual assessment of satellite imagery achieved an overall accuracy of 96% in its ability to discriminate between land parcels with habitats categorised by this study as being of either high or low nature conservation value. Assessment of satellite imagery achieved an overall accuracy of 90% in its ability to discriminate among Fossitt level II habitat classes, and an overall accuracy of 81% when using individual habitat classes (Fossitt level III). There was, however, considerable variation in the accuracy associated with individual habitat classes. We conclude that this methodology based on satellite imagery is sufficiently accurate to be used for the incorporation of farmland habitats into farm-scale sustainability assurance, but should, at most, use Fossitt level II habitat classes. We discuss future challenges and opportunities for the development of farm habitat maps and plans for their use in sustainability certification schemes.
    • Riparian vegetated margins and small mammal communities: Implications for agri-environment schemes

      O hUallachain, Daire; Madden, D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2011)
      Small mammals play a vital role in agricultural ecosystems and influence the diversity and abundance of avian and terrestrial predators. Increasing small mammal populations on farmland is important for improving the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems. This study assessed the small mammal communities associated with 42 riparian margins in the south-east of Ireland. Riparian margins were separated into those dominated by grassy, scrubby or woody vegetation. Results suggested that riparian margins dominated by woody vegetation had the greatest abundance of small mammals. Significantly more small mammals were captured in woody habitats as opposed to grassy or scrubby habitats. Although they had the greatest abundance of small mammals, woody habitats showed the least diversity, with the small mammal community consisting almost entirely of woodmice. Results from this study suggest that current Irish agri-environmental measures, which can lead to succession of vegetation and result in scrub and wood dominated margins, do not promote small mammal diversity in riparian margins. Current prescriptions are not providing optimal habitat for protected species such as the pygmy shrew. Future agri-environment measures should promote heterogeneity of watercourse margins, which in turn will enhance small mammal abundance and also their diversity.