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Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes: the ground beetle communities of woody uncultivated habitats

Biodiversity and Conservation

Abstract

Agricultural landscapes can be defined as mosaics of landscape elements which are affected by farming practices. Woodland habitats, even though they are managed, are amongst the most stable elements of agricultural landscapes and can play a key role in the maintenance of biodiversity. This study of the ground beetle (carabid) communities of woodlands and woody linear features in a Scottish agricultural landscape shows that these habitats contribute significantly to the overall landscape diversity of these beetles. Communities in woods and hedgerows display the same species diversity and are both characterized by the presence of forest species. The main factors constraining carabid communities in both environments are the grazing intensity and, to a lesser extent, the type of soil. Heavily grazed locations are characterized by the occurrence of grassland species while forest species are restricted to ungrazed locations. At the landscape scale, the distribution of the forest species is limited by spatial isolation, indicating that there are insufficient functional links between woodland habitats in the study area. Isolation could be compensated for either by a better control of grazing so that linear features can be used as dispersal corridors for forest carabids or by planting more linear features and woods in the area.

Author(s): Petit, S; Usher, MB

Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 1998

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