Plant and spider communities benefit differently from the presence of planted hedgerows in highway verges

Abstract : Road verges should play a crucial role as a refuge for native flora and fauna in human dominated landscapes. However, the influence of construction choices, such as plantation of woody species, on the biodiversity supported by roadsides has received little attention, although the presence of hedgerows in roadsides is likely to enhance their role as a refuge, notably for woodland species. Using standardised methods, we assessed the impact of planted hedgerows on two taxonomic groups (plants and spiders) inhabiting highway verges within an intensive agricultural landscape. We examined community richness, taxonomic and functional composition in sites with and without planted hedgerows. At the site level, the response of plant and spider communities to the presence of planted hedgerows differed markedly: hedgerows were associated with significantly higher plant richness (higher α-diversity), but similar spider richness. Plant communities in sites without hedgerows appeared as a subset of communities in sites with hedgerows, whereas spider communities in non-planted sites were complementary to that of planted sites (increased β-diversity). The presence of planted hedgerows was also associated with increased taxonomic and functional trait diversity at the landscape level (γ-diversity), through an increased β-diversity in both plants and spiders. Our results thus suggest that a mosaic of planted hedgerows and grassland habitats is crucial for the maintenance of biodiversity at a landscape scale. By providing information for road practitioners and policy makers regarding their potential impact on biodiversity, these results have important direct implications for the management of road networks.
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Isabelle Le Viol, Romain Julliard, Christian Kerbiriou, Louis de Redon, Nathalie Carnino, et al.. Plant and spider communities benefit differently from the presence of planted hedgerows in highway verges. Biological Conservation, Elsevier, 2008, 141 (6), pp.1581-1590. ⟨10.1016/j.biocon.2008.04.003⟩. ⟨mnhn-02265400⟩

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