Of six studies captured, four before-and after studies from the UK and North America found that the use of sites, or the breeding population of birds on sites, increased following the creation of ponds and scrapes or was higher in areas with ditch-fed ponds.
A study from the USA found that dabbling ducks used newly-created ponds in large numbers, although other species preferred older ponds. Songbirds did not appear to be affected by pond-creation.
A replicated site from the UK found that northern lapwing chicks foraged in newly created wet features and that chick condition was higher in sites with a large number of footdrains.
Four studies reported the effect of undrilled patches on wildlife other than skylarks. Three studies from the UK (including two replicated studies, of which one also controlled and a review) found benefits to plants and invertebrates. Whilst two studies (both replicated, one also controlled) from the UK found no significant differences in the number of some invertebrates or seed-eating songbirds between skylark plots and conventional crop fields.
One replicated study from the UK investigated different skylark plot establishment techniques. Plots that were undrilled had greater vegetation cover and height than plots established by spraying out with herbicide.
A before-and-after study found an increase in Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis population on a farm after the creation of skylark plots; a replicated, controlled study from the UK found higher densities of skylarks on fields with plots, compared to those without. No other studies investigated population-level effects.
Two UK studies, one replicated and controlled, found that skylark productivity was higher in plots or in fields with plots than in controls. One replicated and controlled study from Switzerland found no differences in productivity between territories that included plots and those that did not.
Two replicated studies (one controlled) from Denmark and Switzerland found that skylark plots were used by skylarks more than expected. A replicated and controlled study from the UK found that seed-eating songbirds did not use skylark plots more than surrounding crops.
Thirty-nine studies (including 13 replicated controlled trials of which three also randomized and four reviews) from eight European countries compared wildlife on uncultivated margins with other margin options. Twenty-four found benefits to some wildlife groups (including 11 replicated controlled trials of which one also randomised, and four reviews). Nineteen studies (including one randomized, replicated, controlled trial) from Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK found uncultivated margins support more invertebrates (including bees) and/or higher plant diversity or species richness than conventionally managed field margins or other field margin options. One replicated, controlled study showed that uncultivated margins supported more small mammal species than meadows and farmed grasslands. Four studies (two replicated UK studies, two reviews) reported positive associations between birds and field margins including food provision. A review from the UK found grass margins (including naturally regenerated margins) benefited plants and some invertebrates.
Fifteen studies (including one randomized, replicated, controlled trial) from Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK found that invertebrate and/or plant species richness or abundance were lower in naturally regenerated than conventionally managed fields or sown margins. Six studies (including one randomized, replicated, controlled trial) from Belgium, Germany and the UK found uncultivated margins did not have more plant or invertebrate species or individuals than cropped or sown margins. A review found grass margins (including naturally regenerated margins) did not benefit ground beetles.
Five studies (including three replicated controlled trials) from Ireland and the UK reported declines in plant species richness and invertebrate numbers in naturally regenerated margins over time. One replicated trial found that older naturally regenerated margins (6-years old) had more invertebrate predators (mainly spiders) than newly established (1-year old) naturally regenerated margins.
Five studies (including one replicated, randomized trial) from the Netherlands and the UK found that cutting margins had a negative impact on invertebrates or no impact on plant species. One replicated controlled study found cut margins were used more frequently by yellowhammers when surrounding vegetation was >60 cm tall.
Seven studies (including four replicated controlled trials and a review) from Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK reported increased abundance or biomass of weed species in naturally regenerated margins.
A replicated, controlled study from the USA found that three sparrow species found on uncultivated margins were not found on mown field edges. A replicated study from Canada found fewer species in uncultivated margins than in hedges or in trees planted as windbreaks.
Three replicated studies from the USA and UK, one controlled, found that some birds were associated with uncultivated margins, or that birds were more abundant on margins than on other habitats. One study found that these effects were very weak. Four replicated studies (two of the same experiment) from the UK, two controlled, found that uncultivated margins contained similar numbers of birds in winter, or that several species studied did not show associations with margins.
A replicated, controlled study from the UK found that yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella used uncultivated margins more than crops in early summer, but use fell in uncut margins in late summer. Cut margins however, were used more than other habitat types late in summer.
A replicated study from the UK found high rates of survival for grey partridge Perdix perdix released in margins.
Two reviews from the UK found that the population of corncrakes Crex crex increased following the implementation of two initiatives to encourage farmers to delay mowing (and provide cover and use corncrake-friendly techniques).
Natural enemies: Two randomised, replicated, controlled trials from Australia and Denmark found more natural enemies when herbicide treatments were delayed. One of the studies found some but not all natural enemy groups benefited and fewer groups benefitted early in the season. Weeds:One randomised, replicated, controlled study found more weeds when herbicide treatments were delayed. Insect pests and damage:One of two randomised, replicated, controlled studies from Canada and Denmark found more insect pests, but only for some pest groups, and one study found fewer pests in one of two experiments and for one of two crop varieties. One study found lower crop damage in some but not all varieties and study years. Yield:One randomised, replicated, controlled study found lower yields and one study found no effect.
Natural enemy abundance: One replicated, randomised, controlled study found fewer predatory spiders with delayed cutting. Three studies from the UK (two of them replicated, randomised and controlled) found no change in insect predator numbers and one replicated study from Sweden found mixed effects between different predator groups. Natural enemy diversity:One replicated study from Sweden found a decrease in ant diversity with delayed cutting and one replicated, randomised, controlled study from the UK found no effect on spider and beetle diversity. Pests: One of two replicated, randomised, controlled studies from the UK and USA found more pest insects in late-cut plots and one found no effect. Insects in general: Four replicated, randomised, controlled studies measured the abundance of insect groups without classifying them as pests or natural enemies. One UK study found lower numbers in late-cut plots, while two found effects varied between groups. Two studies from the UK and USA found no effect on insect numbers.