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Tuesday, February 7 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Technical Session. Adjacent Land Use as a Driver of Species Diversity in Ditches

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AUTHORS: Ashlee Nichter, Andrew Gregory - Bowling Green State University

ABSTRACT: The greatest threats to biodiversity are habitat-fragmentation, loss and degradation resulting from intensive human land use. Conversion for agricultural development has resulted in prairie ecosystems becoming one of the most endangered ecotypes on the planet. Remnant patches of prairies are now confined to local reserves and linear landscape features such as ditches, field margins and riparian buffers. Most research and conservation efforts have focused on reserve areas as the primary target of conservation; however, due to high interconnectivity and water quality protection laws, linear landscape features may actually be viable biological reserves. However, continued deterioration and fragmentation of linear landscape features from adjacent land use negatively impacts vegetation composition and diversity in these features, resulting in highly invaded novel ecosystems. Resultantly, few have evaluated the potential of these marginal natural vegetative features to act as biological reserves. We measured both vegetation diversity and composition of 80 linear landscape features throughout northwest Ohio. We then buffered each feature at 1Km and extracted a metric of human use intensity within each buffered region. For the human use intensity data set we used the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Human Footprint database. We found that the Human Influence Index (HII) has a significant negative influence on species richness (r2=0.04; P=0.04), but does not have any significant impact on species diversity (Shannon Diversity Index; P=0.29). Further we found that percent shrub coverage was positively correlated to HII (r2=0.088; P=0.006) and negatively correlated with percent coverage of C3 (r2=0.077; P=0.01) and C4 grasses (r2=0.87; P=0.006). These data suggest that linear landscape features, although highly invaded, may have potential as biological reserves, which has implications for the long standing SLOSS debate. 

Tuesday February 7, 2017 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST