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European Union tree density limits do not reflect bat diversity in wood-pastures
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
2017 (English)In: Biological Conservation, ISSN 0006-3207, E-ISSN 1873-2917, Vol. 210, 60-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) recommends subsidies are only granted for wood-pastures with < 100 trees/ha. This guidance exists despite these habitats being among the most biodiverse in boreal Europe and currently under threat due to land conversion. Bats are important bio-indicators of agricultural landscapes, but bat diversity has not explicitly been studied in relation to this policy. We investigate how bat activity, foraging, species richness and functional groups are affected in twenty-six wood-pastures along a gradient of tree density, from open to dense. In parallel, open fields and deciduous forests were sampled and the effect of the surrounding landscape configuration was explored. Our results show a consistent increase in total bat activity, foraging activity and species richness within wood-pastures along the tree density gradient. We find optimal tree densities within wood-pastures are higher than values reported in previous studies, and suggest thresholds might depend on the landscape context. Shrub density was a strong predictor of total bat activity and foraging; whilst structural variation of tree size in wood-pastures was most strongly correlated with species richness. We show that wood-pastures are an important habitat and in comparison to forests they contribute to higher bat species richness and activity levels. Interestingly, higher activity levels of forest feeding specialists were observed in wood-pastures compared to forests. At the landscape level, amount of water in the landscape was the strongest predictor of bat activity whilst deciduous forest mostly influenced foraging activity. This study demonstrates that tree density within wood-pastures is not a limiting factor of bat activity and foraging and that other habitat and landscape parameters are important. Thereby focusing solely on tree density limits will not help to promote the ecological requirements for bats. Instead we suggest that a results based approach to CAP payments would be preferable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 210, 60-71 p.
Keyword [en]
CAP, European Union, Bats, Tree density, Landscape configuration
National Category
Ecology Physical Geography
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-143092DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.04.001ISI: 000405881600008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-143092DiVA: diva2:1094967
Available from: 2017-05-11 Created: 2017-05-11 Last updated: 2017-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Wood, HeatherLindborg, ReginaJakobsson, Simon
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CiteExportLink to record
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