University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Plant species diversity of buffer zones in agricultural landscapes: in search of determinants from the local to regional scale
Doctoral dissertation, December 2006.
This study conducted on plant species diversity of field boundary habitat in agricultural landscapes. Along waterways, the vegetation boundaries, called buffer zones here, served to protect water in agricultural ecosystems. In recent decades, plant species diversity in these linear landscape structures has declined severely. Recently, emphasis has been laid on the importance of buffer zones for maintaining and enhancing the biodiversity of agricultural environments. The linear habitats have a leading ecological role on many aspects. Animal and plant species can use the linear habitats as corridors or refuges in agricultural ecosystem. The diversity of vegetation (for example, species richness, vertical structure, and species composition) in the buffer zones is important for its function to protect from agrochemicals and from eroded soil. With their year-round vegetation cover, buffer zones significantly decrease (by about 20%) the amount of solid particles and their bound nutrients reaching waterways. Buffer zones also efficiently prevent pesticides from spreading from one field to another and into the surrounding environment, and provide habitats for animal species.
In Finland, a typical field margin includes a grassy ditch bank. Maintaining plant species diversity in the linear habitats is a major aim of sustainable agricultural land-use. However, since the 1950s, with extension and intensification of agriculture Finnish rural landscape has become simplified and the semi-natural linear habitats have been declined rapidly, particularly in southern Finland. It has resulted mainly from a shift to subsurface drainage, and associated to enlargement of parcel size and homogenization of parcel shape. This change is believed to have a subsequent adverse impact on farmland wildlife. To restore and maintain species diversity in the landscapes, This study served to understand the relationships between plant species diversity and factors from local to regional scale.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 30.11.2006