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Plant and small mammal diversity in orchard versus non-crop habitats

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment


This study was designed to determine the abundance and diversity of vascular plant and small mammal communities in a mosaic of orchard and non-crop habitats in an-agricultural landscape. Study areas were located at Summerland, British Columbia, Canada where seven replicate habitats: old field, sagebrush, dwarf, and conventional apple orchards, ponderosa pine forest, hedgerow, and riparian were intensively sampled for vascular plant (1999) and small mammal communities (1999-2003). Total plant species sampled included 104 herbs, 26 shrubs, and 9 trees. Mean crown volume index of herbs was similar among sites. Hedgerow and riparian habitats had substantial shrub layers, and the conventional orchard, pine forest, and riparian habitats had the highest biomass of trees. Total mean species richness of plants was similar, but did range from 12.3 species in old field sites to 32.3 species in sage sites. Overall plant species diversity and structural diversity were highest in the sage, hedgerow, and riparian habitats. Total structural diversity was positively related to total species richness and species diversity of vegetation. Mean total abundance of small mammals ranged from 28.1 to 37.0 ha(-1) across old field, sage, and riparian habitats compared with a range of 6.2-16.7 animals/ha in the other habitats. Old field and sage habitats generally had the highest levels of species richness and diversity of small mammals, although the other non-crop habitats were similar to these in some years. Structural diversity of vegetation appeared to be a reasonable indicator of biodiversity, at least for vascular plants and small mammals, and should be included in future assessments of diversity in agroecosystems. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Sullivan, TP; Sullivan, DS

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2006