The effectiveness of ditch banks as dispersal corridor for plants in agricultural landscapes depends on species' dispersal traits

W. F. A. van Dijk, J. van Ruijven, F. Berendse, G. R. de Snoo

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The effectiveness of agri-environment schemes (AES) in enhancing biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is still strongly debated. In the Netherlands, one of the most widely implemented AES is the management of ditch banks to enhance plant species diversity. Previous research has shown that this type of AES has not led to increases in plant diversity. However, this work also showed that the success of this type of AES may depend on the presence of source populations in the surrounding areas. In this study we investigated if species-rich nature reserves can act as seed sources for agricultural ditch banks under AES and whether this function of nature reserves differs among plant species with different dispersal capacities. We used data collected by farmers over a 10 year period to analyse trends in species richness of target plants and in different dispersal groups in ditch banks under AES at different distances from nature reserves. Our results demonstrate that nature reserves can act as species rich sources in agricultural landscapes and that adjacent AES ditch banks can facilitate the colonisation of the surrounding agricultural landscape. However, the suitability of ditch banks as corridors depends on the dispersal capacity of a species. Particularly water-dispersed species clearly spread from nature reserves into the surrounding agricultural landscape along ditches. In contrast, species without adaptations to disperse over long distances do not show these spatiotemporal patterns. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Agroecology Agri-environment scheme Agrobiodiversity Grassland Riparian buffer strip agri-environment schemes european countries biodiversity grassland farmland habitat colonization diversity fragmentation connectivity Biodiversity & Conservation Environmental Sciences & Ecology


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