Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Using historical woodland creation to construct a long-term, large-scale natural experiment: The WrEN project
Author(s): Watts, Kevin
Fuentes-Montemayor, Elisa
Macgregor, Nicholas
Peredo-Alvarez, Victor
Ferryman, Mark
Bellamy, Chloe
Brown, Nigel
Park, Kirsty
Contact Email:
Keywords: Ecological networks
landscape-scale conservation
natural experiment
woodland creation
WrEN project
Issue Date: May-2016
Date Deposited: 27-Apr-2016
Citation: Watts K, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Macgregor N, Peredo-Alvarez V, Ferryman M, Bellamy C, Brown N & Park K (2016) Using historical woodland creation to construct a long-term, large-scale natural experiment: The WrEN project. Ecology and Evolution, 6 (9), pp. 312-3025.
Abstract: Natural experiments have been proposed as a way of complementing manipulative experiments to improve ecological understanding and guide management. There is a pressing need for evidence from such studies to inform a shift to landscape-scale conservation, including the design of ecological networks. Although this shift has been widely embraced by conservation communities worldwide, the empirical evidence is limited and equivocal, and may be limiting effective conservation. We present principles for well-designed natural experiments to inform landscape-scale conservation and outline how they are being applied in the WrEN project, which is studying the effects of 160years of woodland creation on biodiversity in UK landscapes. We describe the study areas and outline the systematic process used to select suitable historical woodland creation sites based on key site- and landscape-scale variables – including size, age, and proximity to other woodland. We present the results of an analysis to explore variation in these variables across sites to test their suitability as a basis for a natural experiment. Our results confirm that this landscape satisfies the principles we have identified and provides an ideal study system for a long-term, large-scale natural experiment to explore how woodland biodiversity is affected by different site and landscape attributes. The WrEN sites are now being surveyed for a wide selection of species that are likely to respond differently to site- and landscape-scale attributes and at different spatial and temporal scales. The results from WrEN will help develop detailed recommendations to guide landscape-scale conservation, including the design of ecological networks. We also believe that the approach presented demonstrates the wider utility of well-designed natural experiments to improve our understanding of ecological systems and inform policy and practice.
DOI Link: 10.1002/ece3.2066
Rights: © 2016 Crown copyright. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Watts_et_al-2016-Ecology_and_Evolution (2).pdfFulltext - Published Version3 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.