The aim of the study done in 2011 and 2012 was to identify the number of breeding bird species, to provide population estimates as well as to evaluate the conservational importance of Škocjan Caves Park for birds. Common bird species were surveyed using the territory mapping method. Rare species and nocturnally active species were surveyed using species-specific methods: observation, the playback method and the line transect method. 81 species were registered, 49 of which bred within the boundaries of the Park. The most abundant breeding species were Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (260-320 breeding pairs), Robin Erithacus rubecula (250-310 breeding pairs), Blackbird Turdus merula (230-280 breeding pairs), Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (230-280 breeding pairs) and Marsh Tit Poecile palustris (200-240 breeding pairs). Qualifying species for the Special Protected Area (SPA) Kras (SI5000023) also bred within the Park: Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, Scops Owl Otus scops and Woodlark Lululla arborea. Eagle Owl Bubo bubo was also registered, but breeding attempts during the study period were unsuccessful due to the negative influence of several factors. One of the largest colonies of Alpine Swifts Apus melba, a rare and localized species in Slovenia, is also of conservation concern.
In the 11 years between 1999 and 2010, certain groups of birds inhabiting Kozjansko Regional Park underwent a moderate or large decline. Composite indices for indicator species of different habitat types showed an increase of generalist species (composite index 108.3), a moderate decline of forest species (composite index 76.6) and species of extensively managed orchards (composite index 76.4), and a large decline of farmland (composite index 62.8) and grassland species (composite index 8.7). Our study was based on a census using line transects with an inner and outer belt. Randomly distributed line transects with a total length of 60.8 km were surveyed using the same method both in 1999 and 2010. The decline of farmland species mirrors the population trend of this group at the national level. The study area is protected by multiple nature conservation mechanisms. It is protected as a regional park and partly as a Natura 2000 site. These mechanisms, however, do not seem to be functioning here. We believe the large decline of grassland species is a consequence of agricultural policy, which favours a decrease of extensively managed grasslands.
Renata Slabe-Erker, Marko Ogorevc, Primož Kmecl and Rok Ciglič
This paper assesses the effects of agricultural payments on changes in farmland bird diversity in Slovenia. Diversity was measured by Shannon index, while the impacts were estimated with the first-difference estimator on panel data for municipalities with and without special protection areas for birds. The effects of agricultural payments on farmland biodiversity require that the balance of financial instruments be taken into account when the agricultural policy is being drafted. The effects of payments in municipalities with and without special protection areas indicate the need to consider the landscape perspective and adapt schemes to landscape type while preparing the national agricultural policy.
Domen Stanič, Primož Kmecl, Jernej Figelj and Andrej Sovinc
In this work we investigated the historical and present breeding range of the Ortolan Bunting in Slovenia and studied one of its last remaining breeding grounds in the country. Its range has suffered a marked decline in the last few decades, bringing the species on the brink of extinction in Slovenia. Firstly, we gathered all the available data and field records regarding the species in Slovenia and created several distribution maps outlining the status of the Ortolan Bunting in Slovenia. Thus we were able to confirm the drastic reduction in the species range, now confined to only two larger breeding grounds on the Karst (Kras). Field work was then concentrated on studying and monitoring one of the two last known populations of Ortolan Buntings in Slovenia. We paid special attention to the study of the males’ singing territories. Our main discovery was the presence of a lek in the central part of the study area, where several different male Ortolan Buntings shared their song-posts. In 2013 we counted a total of 18 Ortolan Buntings and found 5 nests, whereas in 2014 we counted 16 individuals, with 4 pairs probably breeding there. The number of breeding pairs is thus significantly lower than the total number of males holding territory. In the period from 2005 to 2016, the population of Ortolan Bunting in Slovenia was in steep decline.
Katarina Denac, Primož Kmecl, Gregor Domanjko and Damijan Denac
Due to numerous bird surveys in the past 20 years, the avifauna of Goričko is relatively well known. For some species, the very first national ecological researches were conducted in this area. The article summarizes all bird surveys so far. It presents population trends of farmland species which is one of the most threatened bird groups in Europe. Most of the qualifying species of this habitat that are protected within the Natura 2000 network have suffered a decline at Goričko, specifically Quail Coturnix coturnix, Scops Owl Otus scops, Hoopoe Upupa epops, Woodlark Lullula arborea and White Stork Ciconia ciconia. The number of breeding pairs of the latter has not changed, but its fecundity has decreased. Furthermore, populations of other farmland bird species have decreased, for example Skylark Alauda arvensis, Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, Serin Serinus serinus and Common Linnet Linaria cannabina, as well as butterfly populations and tracts of grassland habitat types. National agricultural and nature conservation policies are evidently inefficient in protecting the biodiversity of Goričko. The most probable cause for bird population decline is agricultural intensification, which manifests itself at Goričko as disappearance and intensification of meadows, land consolidation, degradation of traditional orchards and use of pesticides. As a result of land consolidation hedges, uncultivated strips between fields, individual trees and bushes and minority habitat types are disappearing, whereas the surface of arable fields is increasing. Nature conservation measures performed by the Public Institute Goričko Nature Park with the support of DOPPS – BirdLife Slovenia volunteers seem to be efficient, but are spatially and temporally constrained. For this reason, they cannot serve as a substitute for insufficient systemic financing which could be improved by substantive and financial reform of the agri-environmental scheme. Currently, a negligible percentage (1% in 2016) of Goričko is covered by agrienvironmental scheme measures with positive influence on qualifying species and habitat types. As a consequence, only an insignificant share of subsidies from the Rural Development Plan is used for nature protection at Goričko. If the system of agricultural subsidies remains unaltered, no improvement of the conditions for bird conservation at Goričko can be expected.