Removal of woody vegetation from uncultivated field margins is insufficient to promote non-woody vascular plant diversity

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T1 - Removal of woody vegetation from uncultivated field margins is insufficient to promote non-woody vascular plant diversity

AU - Irminger Street, Therese

AU - Prentice, Honor C

AU - Hall, Karin

AU - Smith, Henrik

AU - Olsson, Ola

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - Uncultivated field margins are one of the most frequent non-crop habitat types in contemporary, highintensity agricultural landscapes and may therefore be important for the persistence of many farmland species. Managing field margins in a way that preserves, and preferably enhances, their value for biodiversity is therefore important. In the present study, we evaluate how the flora of uncultivated field margins is affected by the removal of woody vegetation as prescribed by an agri-environment scheme (AES) under the Swedish Rural Development Program 2007–2013. We used generalized linear mixed models and detrended correspondence analysis to compare the flora of open (cleared) and more overgrown field margins, located within agricultural landscapes of different complexity, in Scania, S. Sweden. As expected, there was a negative effect of management on woody species. However, the local (1m2) and transect (100 m) level richness of non-woody species did not differ significantly between management categories, and there were no differences in the within-transect variability of non-woody species (local b diversity) or the species composition (0.25m2 plots) in managed and unmanaged field margins. Our results show that the removal of woody vegetation from uncultivated field margins, as prescribed by the evaluated AES, is unlikely to benefit non-woody plant species. The species composition of the sampled field margins suggests that inclusion of appropriate field layer management alone is unlikely to be sufficient to improve habitat conditions for grassland species unless measures are taken to counteract eutrophication. Landscape type, on the other hand, influenced both the total richness and the richness of each of the species groups that were considered to be of particular conservation value in the present study: field margins in the complex agricultural landscapes were significantly richer than those in the simple ones. Maintaining non-crop habitat at the landscape scale is likely to be a necessary first step in the prevention of a further decline of farmland plants.

AB - Uncultivated field margins are one of the most frequent non-crop habitat types in contemporary, highintensity agricultural landscapes and may therefore be important for the persistence of many farmland species. Managing field margins in a way that preserves, and preferably enhances, their value for biodiversity is therefore important. In the present study, we evaluate how the flora of uncultivated field margins is affected by the removal of woody vegetation as prescribed by an agri-environment scheme (AES) under the Swedish Rural Development Program 2007–2013. We used generalized linear mixed models and detrended correspondence analysis to compare the flora of open (cleared) and more overgrown field margins, located within agricultural landscapes of different complexity, in Scania, S. Sweden. As expected, there was a negative effect of management on woody species. However, the local (1m2) and transect (100 m) level richness of non-woody species did not differ significantly between management categories, and there were no differences in the within-transect variability of non-woody species (local b diversity) or the species composition (0.25m2 plots) in managed and unmanaged field margins. Our results show that the removal of woody vegetation from uncultivated field margins, as prescribed by the evaluated AES, is unlikely to benefit non-woody plant species. The species composition of the sampled field margins suggests that inclusion of appropriate field layer management alone is unlikely to be sufficient to improve habitat conditions for grassland species unless measures are taken to counteract eutrophication. Landscape type, on the other hand, influenced both the total richness and the richness of each of the species groups that were considered to be of particular conservation value in the present study: field margins in the complex agricultural landscapes were significantly richer than those in the simple ones. Maintaining non-crop habitat at the landscape scale is likely to be a necessary first step in the prevention of a further decline of farmland plants.

U2 - 10.1016/j.agee.2014.11.020

DO - 10.1016/j.agee.2014.11.020

M3 - Article

VL - 201

SP - 1

EP - 10

JO - Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment

JF - Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment

SN - 1873-2305

ER -