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The use of hedgerows as flight paths by moths in intensive farmland landscapes

Coulthard, E and McCollin, D and Littlemore, J (2016) The use of hedgerows as flight paths by moths in intensive farmland landscapes. Journal of Insect Conservation, 20. ISSN 1366-638X

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Abstract

Linear boundary features such as hedgerows are important habitats for invertebrates in agricultural landscapes. Such features can provide shelter, larval food plants and nectar resources. UK butterflies are known to rely on such features, however their use by moths is understudied. With moth species suffering from significant declines, research into their ecology is important. This research aimed to determine whether UK moth species are using hedgerows as flight paths in intensive farmland. The directional movements of moths were recorded along hedgerows at 1, 5 and 10 m from the hedgerow face. The majority of moths recorded within the study were observed at 1 m from the hedgerow (68 %), and of these individuals, 69 % were moving parallel in relation to the hedge. At further distances, the proportion of parallel movements was reduced. These results suggest that hedgerows may be providing sheltered corridors for flying insects in farmland landscapes, as well as likely providing food plants and nectar resources, emphasising the importance of resource-based approaches to conservation for Lepidoptera.

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