Skip to main content

Species richness of hedgerow habitats in changing agricultural landscapes: are alpha and gamma diversity shaped by the same factors?

Landscape Ecology


Understanding the determinants of hedgerow plant diversity in agricultural landscapes remains a difficult task, because the potential drivers affect the complete range of biodiversity components (alpha to gamma diversity). We surveyed herbaceous plant communities (of a height < 1.5 m) in 84 hedgerows in the Seine river floodplain of France. Two types of potential drivers for species richness, accounting for landscape mosaic and hedgerow network, were recorded at both hedgerow and site scale. The distribution of species richness through the components of alpha hedgerow diversity (i.e. the average diversity within a habitat) and gamma hedgerow diversity (i.e. the total diversity across habitats) were assessed using additive partitioning methods, while the relationship between species diversity and its potential landscape drivers at both scales was modeled using Generalized Additive Models. Our results indicated that gamma hedgerow diversity is explained by the heterogeneity of the landscape structure, which is correlated with the mosaic of agricultural land use. At this scale, intrinsic properties of the configuration of the hedgerow networks have a weak influence on species richness. Alpha hedgerow diversity is also explained by landscape variables, accounting for both the configuration of agricultural mosaics and hedgerow networks, but to a lesser extent. Time lags for species responses are shown at both scales, and for the two types of drivers. Extinction or colonization debt may be indicated at both scales, while the remnant effects of former practices may also be responsible for such patterns at a local scale. We suggest that hedgerow management should take the specific parameters of both scales into account. At a local scale, management actions should aim to decrease the influence of adjacent land use when the impact is negative, through the implementation of extended buffer zones, while at the landscape and farm scales, agri-environmental schemes should be dedicated to the conservation of specific agricultural land uses.

Author(s): Ernoult, A; Alard, D

Journal: Landscape Ecology

Year: 2011