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2009-05-16 Diversity and Stability The Case Of Hedges

For my recent birthday, I received a nice book called "Plantes des haies champĂȘtres" (plant from the natural hedges) written by Christian Cogneaux. The book is a directory of the whole plant usually composing the natural hedges. On the form, the layout and typography of the book is clear and easy to read (the form is also important to render a book more interesting). The photos made by Bernard Gambier are really beautiful and tight to the spirit of the book. The content itself is useful (especially if you want to keep or create new natural hedges in your garden or land) and provide an exhaustive overview of the species available and common to natural hedges. But what's the relationship with diversity and stability in my blog title? good question. When reading the introduction about the importance of preserving natural hedges, I immediately thought about the scientific reason behind the conversation of natural hedges.

An natural hedge with its heterogeneity provide a nice ecological system to reach a "equilibrium stability". As demonstrated by the zoologist Charles Elton, a more diverse community provides more resilience while changes are introduced (like the introduction of new species or predators). Natural hedges provide a nice complex system with the abundance of species allowing to increase the general stability. If the topic of diversity-stability interests you, there is an excellent article from Nature on the diversity stability topic in Biology.

If you want to participate to biodiversity, when you are thinking of planting new hedges, consider to not use a single specie for your hedge. On one hand, you are introducing more risk to completely loose the hedge (e.g. when the hedge is sensible to a single predator). On the second hand, using various species help to increase biodiversity and protecting the surrounding nature. There is also nice effect of diverse natural edge : a natural edge with various species is nicer to look at than a monotonic green wall-like edge.

For the information security freaks reading my humble blog, there is the collateral discussion about diversity in information system as explained in the article : The Evolution of Security : What can nature tell us about how best to manage our risks?. But this is another story…


cover of plantes des haies champĂȘtres On the cover, you can see a nice Lonicera (very common on natural hedges).