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Spatial and temporal dynamics of hedgerows in three agricultural landscapes of southern Quebec, Canada

Environmental Management

Abstract

Noncrop areas such as hedgerows in agricultural landscapes can perform several ecological and agronomic functions (e.g., habitat, movement corridors, windbreak, etc.), but their dynamics and drivers of changes are often poorly known. We conducted a study in three agricultural landscapes of southern Quebec, Canada, to assess and compare the spatial and temporal (1958-1997) dynamics of three hedgerow networks in relation to geomorphic conditions (marine, glacial, and mixed deposit) and land-use changes. Hedgerow networks were mapped and described in terms of their structure (density, degree of connectivity, and presence of trees or shrubs) and their relationship to other components of the landscape (connection to woodland). Relationships were assessed in time and space using nonparametric correlation, Mantel test, and principal components analysis (PCA). Results show significant differences between hedgerow structure for the three landscapes and distinct temporal and spatial dynamics that can be related to changes in management practices and agricultural policies. On marine deposits, increases in hedgerow density did not always correspond to an increase in their degree of connectivity, suggesting a possible reduction in network quality. On glacial deposits, hedgerow density declined following abandonment of agricultural land, but rather than disappearing, these linear structures were integrated into adjacent brush or forested areas. Our analysis reveals the complex spatial and temporal dynamics of the hedgerow networks and highlights the need to take into account spatial attributes such as connectivity and connection to woodland to evaluate more accurately overall network quality.

Author(s): Schmucki, R; De Blois, S; Bouchard, A; Domon, G

Journal: Environmental Management

Year: 2002

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