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Linear features and butterflies: the importance of green lanes

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

Green lanes are unmetalled tracks between fields of variable width, which may be sunk below or raised above field level, and bounded on both sides by 'grass' banks, hedgerows or dry-stone walls. Tn the UK they have no unique planning status and have been overlooked as discrete landscape elements. Green lanes were surveyed for butterflies in 1997 on lowland arable farmland on the Trafford/north Cheshire border (Warburton) and on upland grassland in the Yorkshire Dales (Ribble Valley). At the lowland site the green lanes were bounded by vegetation and were compared with grass banks and single hedgerow field boundaries; at the upland farm, the green lanes were bounded by dry stone walls and were compared with grass banks and single dry-stone walls. Data from earlier work on a largely arable farm (Manydown) in Hampshire in 1987 and 1988 were re-analysed to make comparisons between a green lane, the rides and glades of two coppiced woodlands, and the grass banks and single hedgerows surrounding arable fields. Green lanes, whether bounded by vegetation or stone were superior to other common farmland biotopes with the exception of woodland, in terms of both butterfly abundance and species richness. Multiple regression of the Warburton data indicated the importance of green lanes, adjacent habitat type, and nectar sources for species richness and butterfly abundance. The interior of green lanes had lower windspeeds, and more bramble nectar sources than hedgerows or grass banks. By their nature they occupy a larger area of uncropped land, and are subject to a reduced disturbance regime and reduced inputs of agrochemicals and fertilisers. Their value as biodiversity reservoirs in intensively managed land is likely to be high. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Dover, J; Sparks, T; Clarke, S; Gobbett, K; Glossop, S

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2000

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