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Assessment of hedge stand types as determinants of woody species richness in rural field margins

Iforest-Biogeosciences and Forestry

Abstract

The woody component along field edges often provides the only permanent elements of structural and biological diversity in landscapes that have lost much of their naturalness to agriculture and urban use. The main aims of this study were (i) to investigate how four hedge stand types, i. e., systems of management distinguished on the basis of the natural and managed growth forms of trees and shrubs (low single-storied, high single-storied, two-storied and multi-storied), differ in their biometric parameters and (ii) to identify the primary management-related determinants of native woody species richness. The study used a large dataset of hedgerows (n=538) sampled in seven sites in Northern Italy. The four hedge stand types exhibited highly significant differences in size and biometric parameters. The multi-storied hedges, associated with the highest stand structural diversity index values, supported the highest number of tree species, followed by high single-storied hedges. The low single-storied hedge stand type contained the lowest number of species. We found a positive effect of hedge area as well as a marginal negative effect of basal area on native woody species richness. The management implications addressed by our study include conversion of single-storied into two-or multi-storied types, increasing hedge size and controlling hedge stand basal area.

Author(s): Sitzia, T; Trentanovi, G; Marini, L; Cattaneo, D; Semenzato, P

Journal: Iforest-Biogeosciences and Forestry

Year: 2013

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