My PhD is part of the Living Lab B7 (LLB7) project. The LLB7 project goal is to enhance biodiversity in rural areas, specifically in the Flower Bulb Region in The Netherlands. Over the last decades rural biodiversity has steeply declined all across Europe. Characteristic bird, butterflies and mammal species of farmland keep declining, stressing the need to drastically change our agricultural system and take measures to halt biodiversity loss.
The Flower Bulb Region is known for its flower fields, but also for the relatively high use of pesticides and artifical fertilizer. Little is known about the region's rural biodiversity. What is known, is that bird species such as the skylark and the yellow wagtail occur in relatively high densities in the region, while in other crop production systems population are dwindling. This contradicts with the general idea that biodiversity within flower bulb fields is low and raises questions about the rural biodiversity here.
Within my PhD project we aim to unravel the biodiversity knowledge gap. We focus on questions like: Do species such as yellow wagtail breed successfully in flower bulb fields? What do they feed their young? and where do they forage? We hope to link this information to the distribution of insect biomass and biodiversity across the region, as well as land use characteristics.Especially land-water transitions and the presence of ditches are expected to influence the spatial distribution of insect and bird populations. Knowledge on this ecosystem's functioning is then used to implement targeted biodiversity enhancement measures.