Using land-use history to better understand biodiversity patterns in agricultural landscapes: case study of roadside vegetation

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Recent historical ecology studies have highlighted the over-riding influence of land-use history in creating past, present and future patterns of biodiversity in fragmented agricultural landscapes. Many landscape elements may still be experiencing major community changes as a consequence of recovery from intense historical land use. An historical ecology approach can enhance our understanding of why different species and ecosystem states occur where they do, and explain variations in ecological conditions within remnant ecosystems, too often casually attributed to the ‘mess of history’. Understanding the history of the land, its biota, and its anthropogenic interrelations must be treated as an integral aspect of any landscape ecology study (Lunt & Spooner 2005). The rural road network is an important social component of agricultural landscapes; it facilitates transport of people, is an infrastructure corridor and is important for movements of outputs and inputs of agricultural production (Spooner 2015) . Present day landscapes are dominated by road networks, which are a historical vestige of past land-use decisions - a collection of farm boundaries, stock routes, laneways, railway reserves and other land administration boundaries, all of which contribute to present day spatial patterns. In this paper, I will discuss the use of land-use history to better explain patterns of biodiversity in roadside environments. In many regions, surveys of roadside habitat and vegetation variables are used to calculate an overall ‘conservation’ ranking of low, medium or high, to which appropriate management actions are directed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventIALE 2017 European Landscape Ecology Congress - het Pand, Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 12 Sept 201715 Sept 2017 (conference website)


ConferenceIALE 2017 European Landscape Ecology Congress
Abbreviated titleFrom pattern and process to people and action
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