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Improving the biodiversity benefits of hedgerows: How physical characteristics and the proximity of foraging habitat affect the use of linear features by bats

Biological Conservation


Within agricultural landscapes, linear features such as hedgerows and tree-lines provide valuable habitat for many species. We use data from 315 transects, completed as part of a national acoustic survey of bat distribution, to examine the incidence of four bat species adjacent to linear features in rural areas. The use of linear features was assessed in relation to hedgerow width, tree density, the presence of water and woodland proximity. To examine the effect of tree density, linear features were classified as either hedgerows without trees, hedgerows with sparse trees (comprising <50% tree canopy) or tree-lines (>50% tree canopy). The use of linear features by Pipistrellus pipstrellus was not affected by tree density; linear features of all types were associated with a similar increase in P. pipistrellus incidence. The use of linear features by Pipistrellus pygmaeus was dependent on both tree density and the proximity of woodland; only linear features containing trees provided an increase in P. pygmaeus incidence regardless of woodland proximity. P. pipistrellus and P. pygmaeus incidence was not affected by hedgerow width or the presence of water. Incidence of Nyctalus noctula and Eptesicus serotinus was unaffected by the density of linear features of any type. Many agri-environment schemes offer financial incentives for the creation and management of hedgerows. Optimising the biodiversity gain provided by linear features will maximise the effectiveness of these schemes. Agri-environment measures that encourage the provision and retention of hedgerow trees will benefit bats in agricultural landscapes. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Boughey, KL; Lake, IR; Haysom, KA; Dolman, PM

Journal: Biological Conservation

Year: 2011


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