The Significance Of Hedgerows For Biodiversity Biology Essay


Hedges are an of import portion of the landscape that defines the UK and Ireland, traditionally planted to find land boundaries ; in the 1700s it became obligatory that landholders erect lasting boundaries around their belongingss. The boundaries from the husbandman ‘s point of position needed to be stock cogent evidence significance that their stock could non get away and therefore were erected without spreads and tall. Sometimes these hedgerows determined parish boundaries ; hedgerows dating back to the 1700s are now known as antediluvian hedgerows and are classed as being of important ecological importance.Hedgerows provide both nutrient and shelter for 80 per centum of forest birds and 30 per centum of mammals and 30 per centum of butterflies in the UK besides associated are ditches and river Bankss which besides support toads, triton and frogs ( RSPB, 2009 )Intensification in agribusiness over the past 50 old ages has had a major impact on alterations in field forms, ensuing in hedgerows being discarded in favor of larger field to advance higher production on the land. The remotion of hedgerows has had a direct consequence on the home grounds that were supported by their being as they provided the footing for a varied nutrient concatenation and the study will sketch some of the species that would be adversely affected if there was farther decrease in the web of hedgerows in the UK.


The methods used in roll uping the information was to find if the species lived or visited the hedgerow in their life-time and so to find if their endurance was based on the hedgerow being. The study is theory based and as there was no fieldwork or informations aggregation involved the methods and consequences are brooding of this. The information was gathered by seeking for administrations that are straight or indirectly involved in the direction and protection of hedgerows and collating information from the comparative administrations and from books available to bring forth consequences that show the importance of the hedgerow to certain species in footings of their eating.


The UK Biodiversity Action Plan ( BAP ) recognises certain species in the UK for their importance to the biodiversity that exists and specify biological diverseness as the variableness among populating beings from all beginnings including, inter alia, tellurian, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological composites of which they are portion ; this includes diverseness within species, between species and of ecosystems ( BAP, 2009 ) .Webb et Al ( 2009 ) cited in Wolton ( 2009 ) observed that many of the widespread species associated with hedgerows require landscape – graduated table home ground mosaics of different home grounds and that conserving any one home ground will be improbable to change by reversal the lucks of these species, imputing to the critical importance of the hedgerow as a whole. It was besides noted that single species frequently use several parts of the hedgerow, an illustration of this is the bird species, Yellow-shafted flickers, they feed in the borders, nest in the base, fell from marauders in the shrubby parts and utilize the trees as song stations, therefore cementing the footing for the study that the biological diverseness of the hedgerows is dependent on more than single species but a combination of species that make up the many little ecosystems within it.

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Hedgerow constituent Associated figure of precedence species ( n = 79 ) Percentage of precedence species associated with the hedge constituent
Tree 45 57
Shrub bed 33 42
Base 32 41
Margin 27 34

Table 1.

Numbers of precedence species associated with the different structural constituents of hedges( Wolton, 2009 )Wolton ( 2009 ) studies that

  • 45 of 79 of all precedence species are dependent or partly dependent on hedgerow trees
  • 33 of 79 species use the shrubby constituent of hedgerows for eating, engendering or shelter and protection from conditions and marauders.
  • The base of the hedgerow, beneath the canopy is of import for 32 of 79 precedence species
  • The borders associated with the hedgerows are of import for 27 of 79 precedence species

Note: figures do non add up to 100 % as some species require multiple home grounds.


Hedgerows provide indispensable resources for mammals, birds and insects and are themselves an of import home ground in their ain right ( unknown 2008 ) The consequences show that hedgerows are highly of import in the keeping the biodiversity in Britain and there are many precedence listed species that are in diminution or on the brink of being and hence necessitate to be protected. Hedges are of import in footings of their biodiversity map ; the nutrient web that is associated within a hedgerow is complex and really synergistic. If the hedgerow was to be removed it would adversely impact many types of species. The hedgerow supports a varied nutrient concatenation and nutrient ironss and webs are non simplistic and are farther complicated as animate beings that are easy adaptable to alterations in their environment will win and will affect competition for their endurance with their ain and other species and will for some necessarily be nutrient for dissociable different animate beings and many birds and mammals will turn to other nutrients off from their normal diets as a addendum for their chief diet. Different characteristics in the hedgerows will appeal to different species as are shown in the consequences and the more diverse in composing a hedgerow is the more species it will back up. Native hedge workss such as the Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Field Maple will back up more species than non native workss ( Unknown, 2008 ) To demo the diverseness in the hedgerow ( Muir et al, 1987 ) have categorised hedgerow feeders into vegetarian, insect feeding and carnivores, this categorization will take to foreground the diverseness of feeders that a hedgerow supports with description given by the writers in their publication Hedgerows, Their history and wildlife.

Vegetarian Feeders

A important figure of invertebrates, aphids, mammals and birds are among the hedgerows vegetarian feeders, with the invertebrates being in the highest population. Muir et Al ( 1987 ) note that the most common hedge tree and hedge bush are the oak and Pomaderris apetala and back up the highest figure of species.


Of the two hundred and eighty four species it is considered that one hundred of these are moth species. Consequences from research undertaken in the optimization of agri environment strategies show that hedgerow trees are the chief ground for the good effects on moth Numberss and moth diverseness. It was besides reported that hedgerow trees create a micro clime for single moth species and are used as wildlife corridors in enabling motion throughout unfastened agricultural infinites ( Merckx et al, 2009 ) .

Beetles and bugs:

signifier an built-in portion as vegetarian feeders ; these include foliage beetles, cockshaphers, weevils and the true bugs to include aphid hopper and scale insects. One of the most familiar of these bugs is the common toad hopper.

Bug life an administration involved in the protection of invertebrates province that the optimal hedges for biodiversity should be thick hedges with tufts and accretions of foliage litter, these sites are more likely to be preferred by invertebrates such as the land beetle and that the lowest bed should be kept integral and non over managed as it is indispensable to invertebrate endurance.


Bullets and snails besides survive in hedgerows with their penchant being for night-time eating, but frequently damp conditions forces them to feed during the twenty-four hours, where their liking is decomposing foliages and Fungis. Daytime feeding for snails allows them to go a possible beginning of nutrient for their marauder the vocal thrush.

Blooming Plants:

Plants that flower at different times of the twelvemonth are really of import to the endurance of many insects as drawn-out blossoming periods provides a beginning of nectar at different times and therefore supports more insects. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds ( RSPB ) promote the value of hedgerows for wildlife and study that flowers on the hedgerows attract bees, WASP and spiders who so get nectar and pollen and in bend fertilise the flowers, cross interaction that benefits both parties.


Seeds and berries on a hedgerow support a figure of invertebrate, the blackberry pull s WASP and the berries are a beginning of nutrient for them near the hibernation season, when the berries become softer they are a beginning of nutrient for the ruddy admiral butterfly which feeds on the juices of the berry, birds and mammals are the chief feeders on the seeds and fruits that are produced within hedgerows.


Rabbits and many other species straight and indirectly, emmets so like the unfastened infinites created by coneies croping and this positively affects the insectivorous feeders. Rabbits have besides had negative interactions with other animate beings when a myxamatosis eruption killed 1000000s of coneies in Britain, this affected marauders such as stoats and turkey vultures where coneies would hold been the chief beginning of their diet. Soon rabbit populations have increased and become abundant once more.


such as bank field mouse, wood mouse and field field mouse are of the highest mammal ‘s Numberss to last in hedgerows and survive on flora, seeds and nuts.

Descriptions and information obtained from Muir et Al ( 1987 )


The RSPB ( 2009 ) identified that hedgerows with a big figure of woody species supports more birds and old trees with holes are highly of import for the bluish breasts, bird of Minerva and sparrow hawks when nesting. It is besides noted in their information that hedges have the capacity to keep up to eighty per centum of the forest birds particularly in countries where forest is non sufficiently abundant and birds depend on the web of antediluvian hedgerows for their endurance. The physical characteristics of birds determine their diet and feeding techniques but in Muir et Al ( 1987 ) it is besides pointed out that birds have the ability to be timeserving feeders and can accommodate their diet as nutrient becomes scarce.

Insect Eaters

Spiders: some of the spiders such as the garden spider spin their web to catch their quarry and other species actively hunt for their quarry. Spiders are of a carnivorous nature and are hence ever in danger of being prey to larger spiders.

Beetles: aboard leaf eating beetles are the insect feeding community with ladybugs being the most widely known. They normally feed and scale insects, mealy bugs, touchs and aphids. They are non normally seen every bit prey as they have brilliantly coloured difficult shells warning possible marauders of their toxicant nature.Frogs: moistness hedges are likely to uncover the common toad and frogs, normally dark feeder of insects.

They are likely to go prey to omnivorous animals such as rats, crows and porcupines.Shrews: are consumers of chiefly land spineless nutrient such as the angleworm, beetles, slater, spiders and flies. They need to devour oat least three quarters of their ain organic structure weight each twenty-four hours and a pregnant female demands to devour one and a half times her bodyweight in nutrient is she is to last.

Shrews are chiefly unpalatable cut downing their figure of marauders but are still at hazard as bird of Minerva will feed on them.Bats: Linear landscapes characteristics such as hedgerows are favorable to chiropterans as they are used as a flight way from perching sites and feeding countries. It is of import that hedgerows do non incorporate spreads as this can discourage chiropterans from scrounging and nesting at that place.

Hedgerows allow chiropterans to utilize them as connexions throughout the countryside. Some species of chiropterans such as the greater and lesser horseshoe, brown long eared and Natters Bat can feeds on insects straight from leaf and prefer being in close propinquity to flora screen. Bats by and large do non vie with birds for insects as they feed at twilight and at dark when birds are the least active and chiropterans such as the pipstrell can catch up to three 1000 insects a dark in flight, ( Unknown, 2008 )Birds: Many birds feed on insect ‘s species along with being vegetarians, including many forest species of birds and those who have had their beginnings in the forest home ground and have developed penchants for the hedgerow such as the thrush household, Sylvia curruca and the hedge sparrow. The population of birds in one hedgerow depend on their ability to set up a district and besides their diet penchants, by keeping a district birds avoid competition for nutrient.Descriptions and information obtained from Muir et Al ( 1987 )

Carnivores and Carrions

Fox: Foxs tend to be really timeserving in their eating wonts and frequently will kill more than what is needed for nutrient if the demand arises ; they besides have the liking for insects and berries.Wisconsinites: are besides timeserving feeders and penchant is given to what is available instead than a specific diet, this includes insects, field mouses, mice, amphibious vehicles and coneies.

As they at the top of the land nutrient pyramid their marauders as with the fox are worlds, non for nutrient but as a control issue.Weasels and Stoats: these animals chiefly have a diet of gnawer quarry and both kill their quarry with a bite to the dorsum of the cervix. Weasels being the smaller of the two provender on smaller mammals and hence do non travel into direct competition with the stoat for nutrient.

The stoat normally preys on coneies and this is the chief portion of their dies, the myxomatosis eruption in 1954 badly impacted on the stoat population and it has been retrieving easy since.Descriptions and information obtained from Muir et Al ( 1987 )


The above descriptions of the nutrient pyramids involved in a hedgerow web and how they evolve into complex nutrient web reiterates the importance of the hedgerow to keeping biological and ecological diverseness in Britain. Hedges have been cardinal in accommodating to altering environments as some have been around for about a century. Care and proper direction can find the hereafter of these mini ecosystems, this has been recognised in statute law in both the EU and Britain in the Hedgerow ordinance ( 1997 ) and reforms under Common Agricultural Policy in Europe farther consideration have been taken in relation to hedgerows. Proper direction and apprehension of hedgerows can hold major benefits and for the keepers a good cognition of carnal behavior, forms and home grounds is necessary an illustration of bad direction can ensue in the loss or diminution of a individual species. An illustration of this is the Brown Hairstreak Butterfly, due to its dependance on hedgerows ; the butterfly is affected by hedge remotion and frequence of cutting. The female lays its eggs on the projecting shoots of the sloe and hawthorn and there they lay dormant for the winter. If the hedgerows are cut during this period the consequence is potentially the loss of all eggs and this has been the ground for the close extinction of this species in recent old ages ( Butterfly Conservation, 2009 ) .


Butterfly Conservation ( 2009 ) Hedgerows for Hair Streaks [ online ] available from hypertext transfer protocol: // % 20for % 20hairstreaks.pdf. Accessed 07/12/2009Merckx et Al. Optimizing the biodiversity addition from agri-environment strategies. Agriculture Ecosystems & A ; Environment, 2009 ; 130 ( 3-4 ) : 177 DOI: 10.

1016/j.agee.2009.01.006Muir, N. Muir, R. ( 1987 ) Hedgerows: Their History and Wildlife.

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Barnes, G. Williamson, T ( 2006 ) Hedgerow history: Ecology, History and Landscape Character. Windgather Press, UKChapman, L ( 2001 ) The populating history of our hedgerows. Orchard Publications, UKNewton, I. The recent diminutions of farming area bird populations in Britain: an assessment of causal factors and preservation actions, 2004, British Ornithologists ‘ Union, Ibis, 146,579-600Putman, R.

J. ( 1994 ) Community Ecology. Chapman and Hall, UKUnknown ( 2006 ) A scheme for the reclamation of hedgerow trees throughout the UK [ online ] available from hypertext transfer protocol: //

pdf. Accessed 07/12/20091 Student ID: 200497332 09/12/2009


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