Effects of large-scale heathland management on thermal regimes and predation on adders Vipera berus

Worthington-Hill, John and Gill, Jennifer (2019) Effects of large-scale heathland management on thermal regimes and predation on adders Vipera berus. Animal Conservation, 22 (5). pp. 481-492. ISSN 1367-9430

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Abstract

Management prescriptions for species of conservation concern often focus on creating appropriate habitat conditions, but the spatial scales over which these actions are applied can potentially impact their success. In Northwestern Europe, preventing further loss of lowland heathland through successional changes often involves the mechanical removal of vegetation, creating large blocks of open homogenous habitat. We investigate the influence of this broad-scale habitat management on a heathland specialist, the adder Vipera berus. By deploying temperature loggers and Plasticine adder models in heathland areas with and without complex vegetation cover, we show that (1) cleared areas lack both the temperature variation adders need to thermoregulate effectively and suitable refuges from dangerously high summer temperatures, and (2) attacks by dogs and trampling by grazing livestock are significantly more frequent in cleared areas and closer to footpaths. Habitat management strategies that retain some structural complexity of vegetation within cleared areas, and diverting footpaths away from cleared areas and/or strategic placement of barrier hedging around these areas could potentially reduce the exposure of adders to high predation risk and thermal extremes.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adder,habitat management,habitat quality,heathland,predation,reptiles,thermoregulation,vegetation cover,ecology,nature and landscape conservation ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2303
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2019 11:30
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2020 01:21
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72479
DOI: 10.1111/acv.12489

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