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Long-term effects of hedgerow management policies on resource provision for wildlife

Staley, Joanna T.; Sparks, Tim H.; Croxton, Philip J.; Baldock, Katherine C.R.; Heard, Matthew S.; Hulmes, Sarah; Hulmes, Lucy; Peyton, Jodey; Amy, Sam R.; Pywell, Richard F.. 2012 Long-term effects of hedgerow management policies on resource provision for wildlife. Biological Conservation, 145 (1). 24-29. 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.006

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Abstract/Summary

Hedgerows provide important habitat and food resources for overwintering birds, mammals and invertebrates. Currently, 41% of managed hedgerow length in England forms part of three Agri-Environment Scheme (AES) options, which specify a reduction in hedgerow cutting frequency from the most common practice of annual cutting. These AES options aim to increase the availability of flowers and berries for wildlife, but there has been little rigorous testing of their efficacy or estimates of the magnitude of their effects. We conducted a factorial experiment on hawthorn hedges to test the effects of (i) cutting frequency (every 1, 2 or 3 years) and (ii) timing of cutting (autumn vs. winter) on the abundance of flowers and berry resources. Results from 5 years show that hedgerow cutting reduced the number of flowers by up to 75% and the biomass of berries available over winter by up to 83% compared to monitored uncut hedges. Reducing cutting frequency from every year to every 3 years resulted in 2.1 times more flowers and a 3.4 times greater berry mass over 5 years. Cutting every 2 years had an intermediate effect on flower and berry abundance, but the increase in biomass of berries depended on cutting in winter rather than autumn. The most popular AES option is cutting every 2 years (32% of English managed hedgerow length). If these hedges were managed under a 3 year cutting regime instead, we estimate that biomass of berries would increase by about 40%, resulting in a substantial benefit for wildlife.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.006
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment > BD - 3.2 - Develop and test practical measures to ameliorate the effects ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment > BD - 3.4 - Provide science-based advice ...
CEH Sections: Pywell
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The attached document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biological Conservation. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published Biological Conservation, 145 (1). 24-29. 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.006 www.elsevier.com/
Additional Keywords: berries, birds, Crataegus monogyna, entry level stewardship, flowers, hawthorn
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Jan 2012 11:33
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/16484

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