Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Conservationists patch it up

21.12.2001


Urban wildlife may not use green corridors.


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



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:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011220/011220-14.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Surface clean-up technology won't solve ocean plastic problem
04.08.2020 | University of Exeter

nachricht Improving the monitoring of ship emissions
03.08.2020 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

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: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>