Direct and indirect responses of tallgrass prairie butterflies to prescribed burning

  • Published source details Vogel J.A., Koford R.R. & Debinski D.M. (2010) Direct and indirect responses of tallgrass prairie butterflies to prescribed burning. Journal of Insect Conservation, 14, 663-677.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use rotational burning

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Use rotational burning

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2004–2005 in two remnant prairies and adjacent land in Iowa, USA (Vogel et al. 2010, same experimental set-up as Vogel et al. 2007) found that recently burned sites had lower abundance and species richness of butterflies than sites burned longer ago. At sites burned 7–25 months before surveying, the abundance and species richness of all butterflies (abundance: 6–21 individuals/unit; richness: 4–7 species/unit) and of prairie specialists (abundance: 2–14 individuals/unit; richness: 1–3 species/unit) were lower than at sites burned 43–61 months before surveying (all: 13–21 individuals/unit; 5–7 species/unit; specialists: 5–15 individuals/unit; 2–3 species/unit). Of 14 individual species, four were less abundant, and three were more abundant, at recently burned sites than at sites burned longer ago (see paper for details). Across two remnant prairie reserves (320 and 1,800 ha) and surrounding land, 22 management units (10–102 ha) were managed consistently for ≥4 years. All units were burned during autumn or spring every 1–6 years. Twelve units were also lightly grazed on rotation (0.25 cow-calf pairs/ha). From June–August 2004–2005, butterflies were surveyed for 30 minutes twice/year at 53 sites (50 × 50 m, >150 m apart) across the 22 units. Butterflies were classified as “specialists” which require native prairie plants as adults or caterpillars, and “generalists” which use a variety of common plants and occur in a range of open habitats.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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