Age is a better indicator of biodiversity for road verges than surrounding landscape

In their recently published article, Alistair Auffret and Evelina Lindgren show how historical maps can be a useful tool to identify which road verges can best support grassland habitats. Here the authors provide a summary of their work

Road verges are by now quite well known to provide valuable habitat for grassland species if they are managed appropriately (Phillips et al., 2019; Vanneste et al., 2020). Being able to identify which road verges are likely to support most biodiversity is useful if we want to know where practitioners or highway authorities should direct resources for specific conservation management regimes. In our latest research, we show how historical maps can be a useful tool.

We found that road verges present on maps from 1901 contained more plant species and grassland specialists than roads that first appeared on maps from the 1950s, even though these ‘modern’ road verges were now more than 60 years old. This was a better predictor of the diversity of road verges than the amount of semi-natural grassland habitat in the surrounding landscape.

Read the full research: “Roadside diversity in relation to age and surrounding source habitat: evidence for long time lags in valuable green infrastructure” in Issue 1:1 of Ecological Solutions and Evidence.

This is the first article published in our new open access journal, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. Find out more about ESE and how we complement our sister journal, Journal of Applied Ecology, in our Editorial.

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