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Value of Semi-Open Corridors for Simultaneously Connecting Open and Wooded Habitats: a Case Study with Ground Beetles

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To counteract habitat fragmentation, the connectivity of a landscape should be enhanced. Corridors are thought to facilitate movement between disconnected patches of habitat, and linear strips of habitat connecting isolated patches are a popular type of corridor. On the other hand, the creation of new corridors can lead to fragmentation of the surrounding habitat. For example, heathland corridors connect patches of heathland and alternatively hedgerows connect patches of woodland. Nevertheless, these corridors themselves also break up previously connected patches of their surrounding habitat and in so doing fragment another type of habitat (heathland corridors fragment woodlands and woodland strips or hedgerows fragment heathlands). To overcome this challenge we propose the use of semi-open habitats (a mixture of heathland and woodland vegetation) as conservation corridors to enable dispersal of both stenotopic heathland and woodland species. We used two semi-open corridors with a mosaic of heathland and woody vegetation to investigate the efficiency of semi-open corridors for species dispersal and to assess whether these corridors might be a suitable approach for nature conservation. We conducted a mark-recapture study on three stenotopic flightless carabid beetles of heathlands and woodlands and took an inventory of all the carabid species in two semi-open corridors. Both methodological approaches showed simultaneous immigration of woodland and heathland species in the semi-open corridor. Detrended correspondence analysis showed a clear separation of the given habitats and affirmed that semi-open corridors are a good strategy for connecting woodlands and heathlands. The best means of creating and preserving semi-open corridors is probably through extensive grazing.
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Keywords: bosque; carabid beetle; conectividad; connectivity; corredor; corridor; escarabajo carábido; forest; fragmentación; fragmentation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leuphana University Lueneburg, Institute of Ecology and Environmental Chemistry, Scharnhorststrasse 1, D-21335 Lueneburg, Germany

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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