Study

Grassland management in agricultural vs. forested landscapes drives butterfly and bird diversity

  • Published source details Ernst L.M., Tscharntke T. & Batary P. (2017) Grassland management in agricultural vs. forested landscapes drives butterfly and bird diversity. Biological Conservation, 216, 51-59.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain traditional orchards to benefit butterflies and moths

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Cease mowing on grassland to allow early succession

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Cease grazing on grassland to allow early succession

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Maintain traditional orchards to benefit butterflies and moths

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 in 20 orchard meadows in Saxony, Germany (Ernst et al. 2017) found that managed orchards had a lower abundance of butterflies and burnet moths than abandoned orchards, but species richness and community composition was similar between sites. In managed orchard meadows, the abundance of 35 species of farmland butterflies and burnet moths (16–36 individuals) and 20 species of woodland butterflies and burnet moths (17–20 individuals) was lower than in abandoned orchards meadows (farmland: 25–59; woodland: 36–39 individuals). However, the species richness of both farmland and woodland species was similar in managed (farmland: 4–7; woodland: 4 species) and abandoned (farmland: 4–9; woodland: 4–6 species) orchards. The community composition was also similar in managed and abandoned orchards (data presented as model results). Twenty orchard meadows (0.85–3.34 ha) were surveyed. Eight were managed by summer grazing (May–September, <1 animal/ha, with cattle, sheep, goat, horse or donkey), two were managed by mowing, and 10 were abandoned (not grazed or mown). From May–August 2015, butterflies and burnet moths were surveyed three times along a 20-minute transect on a 0.8 ha patch at each site. Butterflies and burnet moths were classified as 35 farmland and 20 woodland species.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Cease mowing on grassland to allow early succession

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 in 20 grasslands in Saxony, Germany (Ernst et al. 2017) found that abandoned grasslands had a higher abundance of woodland butterflies and burnet moths, but a lower abundance of farmland butterflies and burnet moths, than managed grasslands, but there was no difference in species richness or community composition. In abandoned grasslands, the abundance of 20 species of woodland butterflies and burnet moths (34–44 individuals) was higher than in managed grasslands (17–36 individuals). However, the abundance of 35 species of farmland butterflies and burnet moths was lower in abandoned grasslands (127 individuals) than managed grasslands (195–206 individuals). The species richness of both farmland and woodland species was similar in abandoned (farmland: 13–14; woodland: 5–6 species) and managed (farmland: 14; woodland: 5–6 species) grassland. The community composition was also similar in managed and abandoned grasslands (data presented as model results). Twenty calcareous grasslands (0.90–5.38 ha) were surveyed. Ten were abandoned (not mown or grazed), one was managed by mowing, eight were managed by summer grazing (May–September, <1 animal/ha, with cattle, sheep, goats, horses or donkeys), and one was mown and grazed. From May–August 2015, butterflies and burnet moths were surveyed three times along a 20-minute transect on a 0.8 ha patch at each site. Butterflies and burnet moths were classified as 35 farmland and 20 woodland species.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  3. Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 in 20 grasslands in Saxony, Germany (Ernst et al. 2017) found that managed grasslands had a higher abundance of farmland butterflies and burnet moths, but a lower abundance of woodland butterflies and burnet moths, than abandoned grasslands, but there was no difference in species richness or community composition. In managed grasslands, the abundance of 35 species of farmland butterflies and burnet moths (195–206 individuals) was higher than in abandoned grasslands (127 individuals). However, the abundance of 20 species of woodland butterflies and burnet moths was lower in managed grasslands (17–36 individuals) than abandoned grasslands (34–44 individuals). The species richness of both farmland and woodland species was similar in managed (farmland: 14; woodland: 5–6 species) and abandoned (farmland: 13–14; woodland: 5–6 species) grassland. The community composition was also similar in managed and abandoned grasslands (data presented as model results). Twenty calcareous grasslands (0.90–5.38 ha) were surveyed. Eight were managed by summer grazing (May–September, <1 animal/ha, with cattle, sheep, goats, horses or donkeys), one was managed by mowing, one was mown and grazed, and 10 were abandoned (not grazed or mown). From May–August 2015, butterflies and burnet moths were surveyed three times along a 20-minute transect on a 0.8 ha patch at each site. Butterflies and burnet moths were classified as 35 farmland and 20 woodland species.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  4. Cease grazing on grassland to allow early succession

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 in 20 grasslands in Saxony, Germany (Ernst et al. 2017) found that abandoned grasslands had a higher abundance of woodland butterflies and burnet moths, but a lower abundance of farmland butterflies and burnet moths, than managed grasslands, but there was no difference in species richness or community composition. In abandoned grasslands, the abundance of 20 species of woodland butterflies and burnet moths (34–44 individuals) was higher than in managed grasslands (17–36 individuals). However, the abundance of 35 species of farmland butterflies and burnet moths was lower in abandoned grasslands (127 individuals) than managed grasslands (195–206 individuals). The species richness of both farmland and woodland species was similar in abandoned (farmland: 13–14; woodland: 5–6 species) and managed (farmland: 14; woodland: 5–6 species) grassland. The community composition was also similar in managed and abandoned grasslands (data presented as model results). Twenty calcareous grasslands (0.90–5.38 ha) were surveyed. Ten were abandoned (not grazed or mown), eight were managed by summer grazing (May–September, <1 animal/ha, with cattle, sheep, goats, horses or donkeys), one was managed by mowing, and one was mown and grazed. From May–August 2015, butterflies and burnet moths were surveyed three times along a 20-minute transect on a 0.8 ha patch at each site. Butterflies and burnet moths were classified as 35 farmland and 20 woodland species.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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