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BTO Blueline
SKYLARK
Alauda arvensis
Skylark© Mike Weston
 

• Population
  changes

• Productivity
  trends

• Additional
  information

Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 3 (depleted)
UK: red (>50% population decline)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: click here
Long-term trend
England: rapid decline
UK population size
1,785,000 territories in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC/BBS trend: BiE04, APEP06); 801,000–1,003,000 pairs in Britain in 1997 (Browne et al. 2000)
Status summary
The Skylark declined rapidly from the mid 1970s until the mid 1980s, when the rate of decline slowed; more recent data show further decline, however, at least in England. Considerable effort by BTO and other researchers in recent years has indicated that the most likely cause of the decline is the change to autumn sowing of cereals: this practice restricts opportunities for late-season nesting attempts, because the crop is by then too tall, and may depress overwinter survival by reducing the area of stubbles (Wilson et al. 1997, Donald & Vickery 2000, 2001; for more information, click here). Chamberlain & Siriwardena (2000) have provided a general review of the effects of agricultural practice on Skylark population trends. More recently, Gillings et al. (2005) have identified better population performance in areas with extensive winter stubble, presumably because overwinter survival is relatively high. Breeding success per nesting attempt increased during the decline (Chamberlain & Crick 1999, Siriwardena et al. 2000b) but, since 2000, nest losses have apparently increased and previous gains in clutch and brood sizes have been lost. Leaving small, rectangular patches of bare ground ('Skylark plots') within autumn-sown cereals appears to provide many of the benefits of spring-sown cereals at very low cost to the farmer (Donald & Morris 2005). Numbers have fallen widely in Europe since 1980 (PECBMS 2007).
 

Population changes

CBC/BBS England graph
 
Table of population changes for Skylark

Source Period
(yrs)
Years Plots
(n)
Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
CBC/BBS England 39 1967-2006 455 -59 -66 -51 >50  
  25 1981-2006 644 -47 -54 -40 >25  
  10 1996-2006 1278 -13 -17 -9    
  5 2001-2006 1307 -1 -5 2    
BBS UK 11 1995-2006 1538 -11 -16 -6    
  10 1996-2006 1568 -8 -14 -4    
  5 2001-2006 1643 -2 -6 2    
BBS England 11 1995-2006 1211 -16 -19 -12    
  10 1996-2006 1236 -12 -16 -8    
  5 2001-2006 1307 -1 -5 2    
BBS Scotland 11 1995-2006 192 1 -11 13    
  10 1996-2006 192 2 -10 14    
  5 2001-2006 187 3 -6 12    
BBS Wales 11 1995-2006 99 -4 -18 5    
  10 1996-2006 103 -5 -16 5    
  5 2001-2006 111 -3 -18 9    
BBS N.Ireland 11 1995-2006 34 -30 -44 -16 >25  
  10 1996-2006 36 -35 -48 -24 >25  
  5 2001-2006 36 -38 -52 -33 >25  

BBS acknowledgement
BBS UK graph
BBS England graph
BBS Scotland graph
BBS Wales graph
 

Productivity trends

Table of productivity changes for Skylark

Variable Period
(yrs)
Years Mean
annual
sample
Trend Modelled
in first year
Modelled
in 2006
Change Comment
Clutch size 38 1968-2006 38 Linear increase 3.37 eggs 3.68 eggs 9%  
Brood size 38 1968-2006 67 Curvilinear 3.1 chicks 3.29 chicks 6.3%  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 38 1968-2006 47 None        
Daily failure rate (chicks) 38 1968-2006 55 None        
Laying date 38 1968-2006 20 Curvilinear May 25 Jun 1 7 days Small sample

 
Clutch size graph
Brood size graph
Eg nest failure graph
Chick nest failure graph
Laying date graph

 

 

Insufficient data on CES
available for this species

 

Additional information

BTO blue divider
 

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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G.,
Barimore, C., Grantham, M.J., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2009).
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2008.
BTO Research Report No. 516. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 18.02.2009