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Live fences and landscape connectivity in a neotropical agricultural landscape

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Abstract

Live fences are common elements in neotropical agricultural landscapes and could play important roles in the conservation of biodiversity by enhancing landscape connectivity, however, little is known about their abundance and spatial arrangement. The objectives of this study were to characterize the abundance and spatial patterns of live fences in a fragmented landscape dominated by pastures in Río Frío, Costa Rica, to determine their contribution to landscape structure and connectivity and to examine their role as tools for landscape conservation planning. Live fences accounted for 45.4% of all fences in the landscape and occurred with a mean density of 50.5 linear meters per hectare. Although live fences covered only a small total area of the landscape (<2%), they had an important effect on landscape structure and connectivity, increasing total tree cover, dividing pastures into smaller areas, creating rectilinear networks that cross the landscape and providing direct physical connections to forest patches. Simulations showed that the conversion of all existing wooden fences to live fences would greatly enhance landscape connectivity by more than doubling the area, density and number of direct connections to forest habitats, and reducing the average distance between tree canopies. Our study demonstrates that live fences play key roles in defining the structure and composition of neotropical agricultural landscapes and merit consideration in both conservation efforts and agricultural policies designed to enhance landscape connectivity and promote biodiversity conservation.

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Correspondence to Celia A. Harvey.

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León, M.C., Harvey, C.A. Live fences and landscape connectivity in a neotropical agricultural landscape. Agroforest Syst 68, 15–26 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-005-5831-5

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