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Species diversity, pollinator resource value and edibility potential of woody networks in the countryside in northern Belgium

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

Woody networks of hedgerows, tree lines and forest patches can harbour a high biodiversity and may serve as an important species refuge in agricultural landscapes. In order to protect the biodiversity and associated potential ecosystem services of woody networks, we need to understand their drivers. We surveyed the plant diversity and calculated the pollinator resource value and edibility value of 831 woody elements in 47 landscape windows of 1 km(2) in the countryside in northern Belgium. The woody network hosted approximately 45% of the plant diversity in the studied countryside, and forest species, grassland species, tall herbs as well as pioneer species coexisted successfully within the woody elements. The pollination resource value showed the highest correlation with the species richness and abundance of the forest species, whereas for edibility the species richness and abundance of the tall herbs were determinative. The number of forest species mainly depended on the presence of forests in the surrounding landscape and the link was even stronger in historical woody elements. For grassland species, tall herbs and pioneers, we found that structural variables of the woody element itself were the most important driver. We argue that by protecting existing woody elements and thoughtfully designing and locating new ones, intrinsic and functional diversity in the countryside can benefit well.

Author(s): Van den Berge, S; Baeten, L; Vanhellemont, M; Ampoorter, E; Proesmans, W; Eeraerts, M; Hermy, M; Smagghe, G; Vermeulen, I; Verheyen, K

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2018

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