Characteristics And Importance Of Hedgerows Biology Essay

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The story opens on a wide shot of a field, followed by a tracking shot along the hedgerow. The story begins showing that hedgerows are a common feature on lowland farms across the UK and have been for centuries. In recent years, the intensiveness of agricultural practices has increased and in some areas, hedgerow numbers have been greatly reduced. It would be explained that in the future, this could be a major problem as hedgerows give many species of both animals and plants the ability to move from one area to another while avoiding prey and foraging for food.

The film then focuses on one group in particular, the carabid beetles. Some interesting and relevant biology is then given about the species, before explaining why these beetles are so important to agriculture, as bio-control for many cereals.


Characteristics and importance of hedgerows

A hedgerow is made up of several elements; the actual hedge which forms the main structure out of a woody plant, and the hedge bottom which is composed of many herbaceous plants. French & Cummins, 2001

Hedgerows are commonly found across farmlands in the UK and are man-made, mainly used for dividing fields.

They are used by many species of plants and animals to move from one area of woodland to another. Burel, 1996

As well as wild animals, hedgerows are important in agriculture for cover and control of livestock. They also help farmers easily mark field boundaries and have functioned in this way for many centuries. Rackham, 1986

Animals and plants need hedgerows to move over fragmented farmland in order to avoid predation as well as foraging for food. Hedgerows provide this movement for a great variety of species; invertebrates, birds, mammals and plants. Burel & Baudry, 2005

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is the main type of hedgerow in the UK and provides an important food source of berries to a variety of animals over the winter. Sparks et al, 2000.

The berries do not have high nutritional value, but the high yield of berries makes them an important food source to overwintering birds, escpecially thrushes. Sparks & Martin, 1999.

Along with uncultivated land, wooded areas and heathland, hedgerows influence the movements of individual beetles. Burel & Baudry, 2005

Due to changes in farming practices, such as agricultural intensification causing the removal of hedgerows, the biodiversity and important function hedgerows provide may be under threat in the future. Burel et al, 1998

Biology of carabid beetles

Kromp, 1999:

In Europe, there are around 2700 known species of carabid beetle

Between species, size can vary although they are identifiable by a slender, robust body, which is mainly darkly coloured and sometimes metallic.

Carabid beetles live mainly on the ground, while only some species will live on foliage, hence the term "ground beetles".

In general, carabid beetles produce one generation per year and an individual female can lay 30-600 eggs.

The two main "types" of breeding in the carabids. The first type is breeding in late summer and overwintering as larvae to hatch out in the spring, and the alternative is breeding in the spring so larvae develop over the summer months.

Carabid beetles are avid predators and within one day, will consume their own body mass in food.

Carabids can also be divided into two groups in regards to their ecological preferences; one group prefer low light and high humidity (woodland carabids), whereas the other group (field carabids) prefer warm, dry areas. Between these groupings however, there is a of of variation.

Lovei & Sunderland, 1996:

Ground beetles have colonised all habitats on land apart from the desert.

Most carabid species will live for a full year and reproduce once before dying.

There is some plasticity in lifespan as certain species, Carabus problematicus, which inhabits the North of England lives for two years at altitudes above 800m.

The majority of carabids in the UK are nocturnal (60%), but field carabids are mainly diurnal and have iridescent colorations.

The nocturnal species tend to be woodland carabids and are generally bigger in size than diurnal species.

Some diurnal species of carabid can hunt using sight, but other species will use chemical signals to locate their prey.

Importance of carabid beetles:

MacLeod et al, 2004:

In farmland, wheat can be negatively impacted in terms of yield and quality because of the cereal aphid.

To combat this problem, farmers can use hedgerows or beetle banks in order to increase the population of polyphagous predators such as carabid beetles.

Kromp, 1999:

Field studies have shown carabid beetles to predate on cereal aphids, reducing their population during the early colonization stage of the pest.

Beetles will forage for aphids on the ground, if aphids have fallen from vegetation.

As well as aphids, carabid beetles also predate on Dipteran eggs and larvae of other beetles that are considered pests to crop plants.

Using organic fertilization can increase the population of carabid beetles in agricultural land, whereas deep ploughing of fields surrounding hedgerows can decrease numbers.

By using this method of organic fertilization, carabid beetle numbers not only increase, but there is more species diversity of beetles present.

Lovei & Sunderland, 1996:

Carabid beetles are well suited as a bio-control for crop pests such as aphids, as because of their relatively long life cycle, they are not affected by fluctuations in prey density

Not only are these ground beetles vital in removing pest species, but more importantly they extend the period between outbreaks of pests.

Summary of the location

Tracking shot

Hedge to be filmedFigure 1

Entry by track from Sugarbrook B&B


As seen on figure 1, the best access to the site is by travelling south from Ashley along Mobberley Road. Once Sugarbrook B&B is reached there is a mud track towards Arden House and the hedge is on the right hand side, as marked on the map.

The hawthorn hedge spans two fields and is around 100m long on East side of the track, with some picturesque oak trees nearby (in the field to the north).

Potential problems with location:

On the recce, the mud track from Mobberley Road to the hedge was quite muddy after a period of rain. It would be advisable therefore to visit the location when there have been smaller periods of rain, or alternatively take transport that can cope with uneven terrain.

The hedge runs East to West meaning sunlight will be present on the hedge all day, with no object occluding light.

Sound recording may be difficult at the site, as the farm is within close vicinity of Manchester Airport. There is also a railway line that runs nearby and the electric pylons that are present on site give off quite a lot of noise.

Shots required on location:

Shots at the farm will be filmed in the summer months, as the hawthorn hedge will have full foliage, along with the surrounding vegetation. The beetle species to be filmed will all be prevalent during this season and easily collected, preferably with the help of an entomologist.

Tracking shot:

A tracking shot along the hedgerow would be ideal as one of the establishing shots of the film. Tracking shots at different heights of the hedgerow can be used, the most important being at the base of the hedgerow, as this is where the subject animal lives. The area the tracking shot will ideally be filmed has been shown on figure 1. This area is flat and relatively level, therefore setting up the equipment needed for this shot will be straight forward.

Aerial shots:

A cherry-picker can be used to achieve aerial shots and can be easily brought on site along the track to the hedge. An aerial shot pulling in or out of the hedge to field will be useful for setting the scene.

Wide shots:

The field to the north of the hedge has some picturesque oak trees which would be a nice addition to the film. Panning shots from the field with the trees towards the hedge would also help to establish the location.

Due to the nature of the animal being filmed, all close-up shots of the beetles can be filmed in a set. Ideally these will include movements and foraging behaviours as well as simulating the beetle hunting and eating aphids. Several species can be used on set, to give an idea of the diversity and colours of some different species.

Species would include Carabus problematicus,

Risk assessment

Below is the risk assessment for filming on location. For general health and safety on location, please see risk assessment in Appendix 1.


Persons who may be harmed

Risk controls already in place

Risk Assessment

Falls from height

Crew / farm staff

-Equipment will be sourced from reliable supplier

-Safe working load will not be exceeded

-Equipment will be thoroughly checked before use

-In the case of bad weather i.e. high winds, filming will stop until the weather improves.

-Safety ropes and lines will be attached to equipment and crew before reaching height

-Seat belts will be worn by all persons working at height


Objects falling from height

Crew/ farm staff

-Kickboards should be installed to prevent objects falling out cherry picker

-Hard hats should be worn by all persons at ground level

-Safety signage will be provided to make crew aware of danger

-If items are being passed up, crew will not stand near equipment until work is finished.


Injury from manual handling

Crew and farm staff

-Eauipment will be used in accordance to manufacturers guidelines

-Crew will be suitably trained in manual handling before filming


Ethical Considerations

On location, disturbance of the environment should be kept to a minimum by keeping to paths as much as possible

Carabid beetles, like other invertebrates do not require a license to film, but once animals have been captured for filming they should be released back into the same area they were taken from.


When researching the idea for this film, it was important to try and get a lot of background information and breadth of the topic. My searching was mainly done online on journals and entomology books to find out the relevant information. I wanted to be fairly thorough with my research in order to make the planning of filming easier. I think having read a lot of information from many sources, I had identified succinct and important points for the topic and also had a clearer idea in my head for the story of the film as I found out more information. I felt confident that my story and research would enable me to plan accordingly for future problems and assess any risks associated with film making. By receiving feedback from tutors regarding the structure of the film, this helped me focus more on the logistical aspect of the research. I think by allocating more time to this report, I could have found out some more interesting information that I could use for my film, but overall I think I have covered the topic well enough to have a clear idea of my story. Having completed this research report, it has given me a lot of ideas and useful points to remember for future projects. I now feel more confident about the planning and risk assessing of future projects I have to do.

During the recce, we had a day to look round the whole site to find a suitable location for our film, which I found quite quickly. For the afternoon, I was then able to examine the hedgerow carefully in terms of access and aesthetics of filming. By communicating with peers about my ideas and being present at the chosen location, I could refine my idea and clearly see how the film would come together. In the future, I think I would take a lot of photographs on the recce for personal use in planning health, safety and logistics and furthermore helping the rest of the film crew have an exact idea of what is required during production.


Burel , F., Baudry, J., Butet, A., Clergeau, P., Delettre, Y., Le Coeur, D., Dubs, F., Morvan, N., Paillat, G., Petit, S., Thenail, C., Brunel, E., Lefeuvre, J.C. (1998). Comparative biodiversity along a gradient of agricultural landscapes. Acta Oecologica. 19(1), 47-60.

Burel, F. (1996). Hedgerows and their role in agricultural landscapes. Critical reviews in plant sciences. 15, 169-190.

Burel, F., Baudry, J. (2005). Habitat quality and connectivity in agricultural landscapes: The role of land use systems at various scales in time. Ecological Indicators. 5, 305-313.

French, D.D., Cummins, R.P. (2001) Classification, composition, richness and diversity of British hedgerows. Applied vegetation science. 4, 213-228.

Kromp, B. (1999). Carabid beetles in sustainable agriculture: a review on pest control efficacy, cultication impacts and enhancement. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 74(1-3), 187-228.

Lovei , G. L., Sunderland, K.D. (1996). Ecology and behaviour of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae). Annual Review of Entomology. 41, 231-56.

MacCleod, A., Wrattne, S.D., Sotherton, N.W., Thomas, M. B. (2004). 'Beetle banks' as refuge for beneificial arthropods in farmland: long-term changes in predator communities and habitat. Agriculture and Forest Entomology. 6, 147-154.

Rackham, O. (1986). The History of the Countryside. Dent, London.

Sparks, T.H., Robinson, K.A., Downing, S.L., Britt, C.P. (2000). Hedgerow management and the yield of hawthorn Crataegus monogyna berries. Aspects of Applied Biology. 58, 421-424.

Sparks, T.H., Martin, T. (1999). Yiels of hawthorn Crataegus monogyna berries under different hedgerow management. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 72, 107-110.