This point-count based study (1995–99) provides information on the avifauna of different farmland habitats in Latvia. Ordinations identify the main gradients within the species composition pattern: from arable land to natural habitats and from woodland across open, dry areas to wet meadowlands with rivers and ponds. Regression models describing the relationship between species richness and habitat show that the best positive predictors of species richness are woodland, scrub, natural meadows, unfarmed patches such as piles of stones or brushwood, and ponds. Regression models of the habitat affinities of the 30 most frequently recorded bird species are used to describe the present-day situation and to predict the effects of possible changes in Latvian farmland. The current high bird diversity is largely upheld by a non-intensive agriculture and large set-aside areas. Both further abandonment and development towards western standards of agricultural production may have adverse effects on populations of several species of conservation concern. Environmental considerations should therefore become an integral part of the development of Latvian agriculture.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1