Skip to main content

The benefits of hedgerows for pollinators and natural enemies depends on hedge quality and landscape context

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment


Ecological intensification advocates the harnessing of regulating and supporting ecosystem services to promote more sustainable food production, and this relies on effective management of non-cropped habitats. Hedgerows are an important component of the landscape in many farming systems across the world, management of which provides a potential mechanism to enhance ecological intensification. Here we investigate the value of hedgerows in Southern England as a source of functionally important taxa, and how hedgerow quality and local landscape composition impact on their potential contribution to sustainable agriculture in arable landscapes. We show that hedgerows are a source habitat for many natural enemies which spill over into neighbouring fields, and that hedgerows provide a valuable forage resource and corridor for movement of pollinators. Hedgerow quality affects these benefits and continuous unbroken hedgerows, with a high diversity of woody species, are more valuable for the provision of bumblebees and Linyphiid spiders, while the presence of trees within the hedgerow supports Lycosid spiders. Floral resources, beyond the woody hedgerow species themselves, are also a key forage resource for hoverflies. The impact of these hedgerows on invertebrate abundance is moderated by local landscape, and hedgerows are a more valuable forage resource for pollinators in more intensely managed landscapes. Our study shows that in order to support abundant and a broad range of natural enemies and pollinators in agricultural landscapes, both hedgerows and local semi-natural habitats need to be protected and managed. The benefit of hedgerows, as a habitat for functionally important taxa depends on hedgerow quality and management practices such as avoiding gaps, high hedge species diversity and maintaining an abundant understory of plants, can improve their value for ecological intensification.

Author(s): Garratt, MPD; Senapathi, D; Coston, DJ; Mortimer, SR; Potts, SG

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2017


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *