Species composition and diversity of non-forest woody vegetation along roads in the agricultural landscape
Non-forest woody vegetation represents an important component of green infrastructure in the agricultural landscape, where natural and semi-natural forest cover has only a low land use proportion. This paper focuses on linear woody vegetation structures along roads in the agricultural landscape and analyses them in three study areas in the Nitra Region, Slovakia. We evaluate species composition and diversity, species occurrence frequency or spatial distribution, their structure according to
... tively achievable age and origin. For the evaluation of occurrence frequency, a Frequency Factor was proposed and applied. This factor allows a better comparison of different study areas and results in more representative findings. The study areas were divided into sectors based on visual landscape features, which are easily identifiable in the field, such as intersections and curves in roads, and intersections of roads with other features, such as cadastral or land boundaries, watercourses, etc. Based on the species abundance, woody plants present within the sectors were categorised into 1) predominant, 2) complementary and 3) mixed-in species; and with regard to their origin into 1) autochthonous and 2) allochthonous. Further, trees were categorised into 1) long-lived, 2) medium-lived and 3) short-lived tree species. The main finding is that among trees, mainly allochthonous species dominated. Robinia pseudoacacia L. was the predominant tree species in all three study areas. It was up to 4 times more frequent than other predominant tree species. Introduced tree species prevailed also among complementary and mixed-in species. Among shrubs, mainly native species dominated, while non-native species had a significantly lower proportion and spatial distribution. Based on these findings, several measures have been proposed to improve the overall ecological stability, the proportion and spatial distribution of native woody plant species. The recommendations and measures aim at enhancement of native species biodiversity, landscape identity and character, in order to meet the main landscape and biodiversity challenges identified in key biodiversity and landscape policies of Europe.