•We pooled species into functional groups; linear mixed models showed no significant differences between farm types for species richness but that all birds, migratory birds using crops and aerial insectivores were more abundant on organic farms.•Species composition and abundance of all birds did not differ between farm types according to permutational multivariate analysis of variance. Significant differences were evident between about half of farm pairs and were most pronounced for all birds, migratory birds using crops and ground feeders.•Non-metric multidimensional scaling of bootstrapped averages for each farm type suggested that there was more variation in β diversity on organic than nonorganic farms (i.e. higher β diversity) but the difference was not significant. β diversity was higher on organic farms for some pairs and functional groups but higher on nonorganic farms for other pairs and functional groups suggesting that patterns were not consistent.•As predicted, non-crop land cover and at a larger spatial extent was most important to farmland birds.•As predicted, land cover was a more important determinant of avian biodiversity than farming practices, but once controlled for, pesticide use had a significant and apparently negative effect.•Although the field extent was more important than the site extent for bird communities in variance partitioning, more significant effects of heterogeneity were found at the site extent than the field extent, irrespective of farm type.•Overall land cover heterogeneity had few significant effects at the site extent but positive effects on richness and/or abundance of several groups at the field extent. At the site extent significant positive effects of non-crop heterogeneity were found for richness and abundance of four groups, but no significant effects were found at the field extent. Crop heterogeneity had negative and largely non-significant effects at both extents (except for aerial insectivores at the field extent).
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2017
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