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Live fences as tools for biodiversity conservation: a study case with birds and plants

Agroforestry Systems

Abstract

Live fences may act as tools for biodiversity conservation by providing habitat for native species and increasing connectivity in the landscape. We studied the influence of live fence characteristics on species richness and fence use by birds by examining both local and landscape factors. We studied three types of live fences: planted fences of a native tree, planted fences of an exotic, and spontaneous. They were either connected to forest fragments or isolated, and were all within a pasture matrix. Spontaneous and planted live fences maintain a diverse plant (77 shrub and tree species) and bird communities (98 species). Fence types strongly differed in vegetation composition and structure. We found that by analyzing each fence characteristic independently, there was no difference in bird richness or abundance. However, there was a significant correlation when plant richness, structure, and connectivity were analyzed together. This could be the result of some variables counterbalancing each other. Birds used fences for a variety of purposes including foraging, breeding, and moving across the landscape. Native birds and plants used live fences as habitat and refuge in a landscape where large forest tracts have been lost for decades. Live fences in conjunction with small forest fragments maintain a diverse array of plant and birds species that are a subsample of the species originally found in the landscape before extensive deforestation. We recommend the establishment of live fences, allowing growth of spontaneous understory.

Author(s): Pulido-Santacruz, P; Renjifo, LM

Journal: Agroforestry Systems

Year: 2011

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