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The conservation value of hedgerows for small mammals in prince Edward Island, Canada

American Midland Naturalist

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the use of hedgerows by small mammals in four agricultural landscapes in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The Island has one of the highest percentages of land (about 48%) devoted to crop production and pasture in all of Canada. Therefore, identifying the landscape elements that can mitigate the effects of habitat fragmentation resulting from agricultural practices is essential to preserve the biodiversity of Prince Edward Island. We quantified species richness, abundance and diversity of small mammals in 13 hedgerows and 13 attached forest patches. Although all the species detected in forest patches were also found in hedgerows, significant differences in species diversity and abundance suggest that not all species benefit equally from hedgerows. The abundance of small mammals other than the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) increased in hedgerows longer than about 225-250 m, but was independent of hedgerow's length in hedgerows smaller than 225-250 in. Predators (Mustela erminea) were captured in hedgerows, but not in forest patches. Relationships between small mammal variables and hedgerow features (microhabitat, macrohabitat and landscape) suggested that most small mammal species would benefit from hedgerows having high shrub diversity, ground cover with vines and leaf litter, and few non-vegetated gaps. Removal of hedgerows, especially large ones, may affect long-term survival of some small mammal species inhabiting agricultural landscapes of Prince Edward Island.

Author(s): Silva, M; Prince, ME

Journal: American Midland Naturalist

Year: 2008

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