Plant riparian buffer strips
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Riparian buffer strips are uncultivated strips of permanent vegetation at the edge of waterways. They may be used within agricultural, forestry and urban systems to help reduce bank erosion and prevent pollutants and sediment entering the waterway. These buffer strips can therefore help to protect aquatic and semi-aquatic species.
For other studies that investigated retaining riparian buffers see Threat: Biological resource use – Logging and wood harvesting – Retain riparian buffer strips during timber harvest and Habitat protection – Retain buffer zones around core habitat.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study in 2003 of waterways in crop fields in Iowa, USA (Knoot & Best 2011) found that over half of grassed riparian buffer strips were used by snakes. In total, 24 of 31 grassed riparian buffer strips were used by up to five snake species. Brown snakes Storeria dekayi (2.9 snakes/100 coverboards) and eastern garter snakes Thamnophis sirtalis (1.8 snakes/100 coverboards) were most abundant, followed by plains garter snake Thamnophis radix (0.8 snakes/100 coverboards), smooth green snakes Lioclonorophis vernalis (0.5 snakes/100 coverboards) and fox snakes Elaphe vulpine (0.4 snakes/100 coverboards). In May–August 2003, snakes were surveyed in 31 grassed waterways (>400 m apart) in crop fields (corn Zea mays and soybean Glycine max) that were established as part of the US government’s National Conservation Buffer Initiative. Surveys were carried out using wooden coverboards (0.9 x 0.9 m) placed along each waterway (4–5 coverboards/waterway, 150 total coverboards). Observers checked each waterway for snakes weekly (12 checks/waterway, 1,800 total coverboard surveys).Study and other actions tested