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 Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

NIH scientists illuminate causes of hepatitis b virus-associated acute liver failure

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs

14.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>