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Title: Landscape connectivity : a key to effective habitat restoration in lowland agricultural landscapes
Author: Twiston-Davies, Grace
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 0401
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2014
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Landscape scale habitat restoration has the potential to reconnect habitats in fragmented landscapes. This study investigates landscape connectivity as a key to effective habitat restoration in lowland agricultural landscapes and applies these findings to transferable management recommendations. The study area is the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, UK, where landscape scale chalk grassland restoration has been implemented. Here, the ecological benefits of landscape restoration and the species, habitat and landscape characteristics that facilitate or impede the enhancement of biodiversity and landscape connectivity were investigated. Lepidoptera were used as indictors of restoration success and results showed restoration grasslands approaching the ecological conditions of the target chalk grassland habitat and increasing in biodiversity values within a decade. Restoration success is apparent for four species with a broad range of grass larval host plants (e.g. Melanargia galathea, Maniola jurtina) or with intermediate mobility (Polyommatus icarus). However, two species with specialist larval host plants and low mobility (Lysandra bellargus), are restricted to chalk grassland fragments. Studies of restoration grassland of different ages show that recent grassland restoration (1 or 2 years old) may reduce the functional isolation of chalk grassland fragments. A management experiment showed that mowing increases boundary following behaviour in two species of grassland Lepidoptera; Maniola jurtina and Zygaena filipendulae. Analysis of the landscape scale implications of the grassland restoration illustrates an increase in grassland habitat network size and in landscape connectivity, which is likely to benefit the majority of grassland associated Lepidoptera. Landscape and habitat variables can be managed to increase the success of restoration projects including the spatial targeting of receptor sites, vegetation structure and selection of seed source and management recommendations are provided that are transferrable to other species-rich grassland landscape scale restoration projects. Overall results show restoration success for some habitats and species within a decade. However, additional management is required to assist the re-colonisation of specialist species. Despite this, habitat restoration at the landscape scale can be an effective, long term approach to enhance butterfly biodiversity and landscape connectivity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available