Relative value of riparian woodlands in landscapes with different forest cover for medium-sized Iberian carnivores

Author: Virgós, E.

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 10, Number 7, July 2001 , pp. 1039-1049(11)

Publisher: Springer

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This study analyses the role of riparian woodland in the conservation of five common carnivore species as compared with other non-riparian habitats according to woodland cover on the landscape scale (>60, 20–35 and <15% on 20 × 20-km surface area). I hypothesised that the importance of riparian woodlands in carnivore conservation on the regional scale would be greater in landscapes with low forest cover than in those with intermediate or high forest cover. To test this hypothesis, in each landscape type I sampled five riparian forests and 10–15 non-riparian habitats and recorded species richness and frequency of occurrence (number of sampled sites with species presence/total sampled sites) in both habitat types. The presence of (or use by) species at each particular sampling site was recorded using sign-surveys (search for scats and badger dens). The relative importance of riparian and non-riparian habitats in each landscape type was analysed by comparing species richness and frequency of occurrence for each species. Comparison of species richness and frequency of occurrence between landscape types indicate that riparian woodlands are important habitats in all landscape contexts. However, in accordance with the initial hypothesis, riparian woodlands are essential for carnivore conservation in the most deforested areas. Any agricultural or development policy should take into account the need to maintain and preserve riparian woodlands in landscapes, especially in intensively cultivated landscapes.

Keywords: Iberian Peninsula; carnivores; conservation; landscape pattern; riparian woodlands

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Animal Biology I (Vertebrate Zoology), Faculty of Biological Sciences, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, Spain (Present address: Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC-CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), C/ Libertad 7 A, E-13004 Ciudad Real, Spain

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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