Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Conservationists patch it up


Urban wildlife may not use green corridors.

Canals are assumed to help species to travel around the landscape.

Green corridors do little to aid wildlife, say UK ecologists. Their discovery that isolated wild ground contains just as many plant species as do patches linked by continuous greenery casts doubt on current conservation priorities.

"The proportion of organisms that use [wildlife corridors] is exceedingly small," says botanist Mark Hill of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Monks Wood. Only vertebrates seem to benefit, he says.

"Resources would be much better spent managing habitat in the right way, rather than worrying about connections between patches," adds conservation biologist Andrew Pullin, of the University of Birmingham.

Many environmental management plans, including the European Union’s Habitat’s Directive, promote wildlife corridors, such as hedges, railway embankments and canals. The assumption is that they help species to travel around the landscape, opening up habitat and reducing the risk of extinction.

"All other things being equal, they’re good, but all other things aren’t equal," says Dave Dawson, biodiversity strategy manager with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and an expert on wildlife corridors.

The GLA’s conservation policy values corridors, but makes them a low priority. Enhancing or defending habitat is usually cheaper and more worthwhile, says Dawson. "If you’ve got limited resources, creating a corridor is the last thing you should put them into."

Cross purposes

In 1998, the UK Natural Environment Research Council commissioned researchers, including Hill and Pullin, to look into the influence of corridors on wildlife in and around the city of Birmingham.

Early results suggest that many plants easily cross inhospitable territory, Hill told this week’s British Ecological Society’s Winter Meeting in Warwick, UK.

Open spaces on or near corridors have no more plant species than do more isolated counterparts, the researchers found. Most seeds are moved by building projects, cars and people. Birds and the wind are also important.

Green routes through the city can be habitat in their own right, and they can help to bring people into contact with wildlife, says Hill. "But they’re not a way that plants get about."

Pullin, meanwhile, is comparing the DNA of butterflies from isolated and interconnected patches. Preliminary results suggest that butterflies can get to the two types of habitat with equal ease. "We frequently underestimate the dispersal capabilities of a lot of species," he says.

Corridors of power

But ecologists may be reluctant to abandon corridors. They might benefit species other than those examined in this study, warns Chris Parry, principal ecologist with conservation charity the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country. "It’s common sense that habitats are better linked than isolated," he says.

Plants and animals don’t see links in the same way as we do, counters Pullin. "They don’t look at a map and think, ’this is the best way to get from A to B’."

Corridors fail some of the species that might be thought to need them most, agrees Dawson. Newts, for example, like to migrate in straight lines from their winter homes to their breeding ponds.

"The species that theoretically most need them tend to have fussy habitat requirements," Dawson says. "The whole landscape needs to be amenable to wildlife."

JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>