Saturday, 29 July 2017

What are the important characteristics of a roadside verge

Following up on yesterday's post, I did a quick bit of thinking about the features that might contribute to a scoring system for roadside verges:
  1. Width (the bigger, the better)
  • 0
  • 1-2m
  • 3-5m
  • 5+m
  1. Hedge present (important buffer from usage further back)
  • Narrow (<1m), tightly trimmed
  • Narrow (<1m), gappy
  • Broad (>1m), tightly trimmed
  • Broad (>1m), Bushy
  1. Hedge composition (potentially important as both nectar source and food source for birds)
  • Monoculture
  • Narrow range of species (2-3)
  • Broad spectrum of shrubs and woody climbers
  1. Trees in hedge (may have a positive or negative influence on ground vegetation and overall ecology)
  • Recent planting
  • Mature with potential/actual saproxyic features
  1. Ditch present? (Important and potentially valuable structural variation)
  • With water
    • With wetland plants such as Typha and Mentha aquatica
    • Manicured
  • Dry
  1. Bramble and/or thorny species in the sward? (Negative impact - risk of swamping of open grassland features)

  2. Recently planted woody species? (Potentially negative impact on grassland features)

  3. Vegetation composition (important from both a strictly floristic perspective as well as for invertebrates)
  • Rank, MG1 or similar
  • Composed of 'finer' grasses with range of specialist phorbs
  • Presence of local or 'rare' plant species
  1. Supports good nectar sources:
    • Hogweed
    • Angelica
    • Upright Stone Parsley
    • Cow Parsley
    • Ground elder
    • Hemp Agrimony
    • Meadowsweet
    • Field Scabious
    • Devil's-bit Scabious
    • Knapweed
    • Creeping Thistle
    • Rough Hawkbit
    • Ragwort
    • Fleabane
    • Sow thistles
    • Creeping/bulbous buttercup
    • Dandelion
    • Mentha sp.
    • Vetches
    This is just a quick bit of thinking to try to come up with a way of scoring verge attributes, both positive and negative. It has largely been constructed from a Dipterist's perspective and I am aware that I have probably overlooked important nectar sources for Hymenoptera.

    Anyway, it is something for discussion by others. Meanwhile, I think I might perhaps give it a try! Turning it into an assessment tool is a bit more of a challenge but it seems to be a potentially worthwhile exercise.

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