Are hedgerows effective corridors between fragments of woodland habitat? An evidence-based approach
Anthropogenic modification of the countryside has resulted in much of the landscape consisting of fragments of once continuous habitat. Increasing habitat connectivity at the landscape-scale has a vital role to play in the conservation of species restricted to such remnant patches, especially as species may attempt to track zones of habitat that satisfy their niche requirements as the climate changes. Conservation policies and management strategies frequently advocate corridor creation as one approach to restore connectivity and to facilitate species movements through the landscape. Here we examine the utility of hedgerows as corridors between woodland habitat patches using rigorous systematic review methodology. Systematic searching yielded 26 studies which satisfied the review inclusion criteria. The empirical evidence currently available is insufficient to evaluate the effectiveness of hedgerow corridors as a conservation tool to promote the population viability of woodland fauna. However, the studies did provide anecdotal evidence of positive local population effects and indicated that some species use hedgerows as movement conduits. More replicated and controlled field investigations or longterm monitoring are required in order to allow practitioners and policy makers to make better informed decisions about hedgerow corridor creation and preservation. The benefits of such corridors in regard to increasing habitat connectivity remain equivocal, and the role of corridors in mitigating the effects of climate change at the landscape-scale is even less well understood.
Author(s): Davies, ZG; Pullin, AS
Journal: Landscape Ecology