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Title: Strategic woodland conservation planning : landscape ecology, landscape assessment and geographic information systems : a case study examining habitat quality modelling and the prediction of upland oakwood biodiversity within 'clough' landforms of the Dar
Author: Winn, Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0001 3570 8314
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2008
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Research assessed the ecology, conservation interest and restoration potential of Ancient Woodlands at the Natural Area scale, as a model for examination of biodiversity-abiotic data associations. Biodiversity indicators including richness, composition and structure were collected. Biodiversity scores were developed directly from the indicators in addition to ordination, detailing associations and clustering between indicators and allowing further analysis of biodiversity-abiotic variable associations in reduced dimensions. A woodland GIS was constructed including classification of the landscape matrix, incorporating modelling of native semi-natural woodland "clough" landform topography zones. Analysis showed abiotic, GIS collated, woodland patch and landscape data to be associated with biodiversity levels. Habitat type and within-patch habitat quality were significant predictors of biodiversity levels within theory developed sequential multiple regression models (r2 = . 37 to . 72). Most variance was explained by patch-level variables (habitat type, area and within-patch habitat quality), with lower levels explained by landscape-level connectivity, once patch-level factors had been included in models. However several regional trends remained. The models showed significant interaction occurred between effects of patch area and within-patch habitat quality. Examination revealed that while within-patch habitat quality was consistently associated with higher biodiversity levels, patch area showed a contradictory relationship when examined among the biodiversity ordination scores. Small, but topographically diverse, woodlands occurred which had high biodiversity levels for their unit area. Analysis indicates that in upland areas woodland patch biodiversity may successfully be predicted by use of woodland habitat type and within-patch habitat quality levels (topographic diversity and presence / distance to watercourses). As a case study a GIS model was used to map predicted woodland biodiversity as areas of conservation priority for Upland Oakwood conservation, restoration and creation, within the Dark Peak Natural Area, using targets set by the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, illustrating the use of the method in strategic conservation planning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available