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Plant diversity in three types of hedgerows adjacent to cropfields

Biodiversity and Conservation

Abstract

The farming landscape of eastern Canada is dotted with three main types of hedgerows: (1) natural woody, (2) planted woody and (3) herbaceous. The objective of this study was to compare the value of these habitats as a repository of plant biodiversity in agricultural areas of southern Quebec. The overall plant diversity was higher in natural hedgerows and they contained more plant species of conservation values than other hedgerow types. Plant species richness per quadrat was, however, higher in planted woody hedgerows, and together with the species composition, lead to the conclusion that planted hedgerows in their entirety consisted of an ecotone type of vegetation such as is found in field edges which usually support high plant diversity and productivity but where transient plant species predominate. Consequently, this study indicated that natural hedgerows fare better than planted hedgerows in terms of diversity of plants of conservation interest. In spite of that, planted woody hedgerows contained plant (and bird) species of some interest and should be favoured over more desolate herbaceous hedgerows. In areas where hedgerows were removed and are not re-establishing naturally, a mixture of deciduous trees and conifers should be encouraged in further windbreak planting programs so as to conciliate both the conservation and agronomic objectives. Furthermore, management practices should optimise the growth of establishing plants of conservation values.

Author(s): Boutin, C; Jobin, B; Belanger, L; Choiniere, L

Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 2002

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