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Identifying time lags in the restoration of grassland butterfly communities: a multi-site assessment

Woodcock, B.A., Bullock, J.M., Mortimer, S.R., Brereton, T., Redhead, J.W., Thomas, J.A. and Pywell, R.F. (2012) Identifying time lags in the restoration of grassland butterfly communities: a multi-site assessment. Biological Conservation, 155. pp. 50-58. ISSN 0006-3207

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.05.013

Abstract/Summary

Although grasslands are crucial habitats for European butterflies, large-scale declines in quality and area have devastated many species. Grassland restoration can contribute to the recovery of butterfly populations, although there is a paucity of information on the long-term effects of management. Using eight UK data sets (9-21 years), we investigate changes in restoration success for (1) arable reversion sites, were grassland was established on bare ground using seed mixtures, and (2) grassland enhancement sites, where degraded grasslands are restored by scrub removal followed by the re-instigation of cutting/grazing. We also assessed the importance of individual butterfly traits and ecological characteristics in determining colonisation times. Consistent increases in restoration success over time were seen for arable reversion sites, with the most rapid rates of increase in restoration success seen over the first 10 years. For grasslands enhancement there were no consistent increases in restoration success over time. Butterfly colonisation times were fastest for species with widespread host plants or where host plants established well during restoration. Low mobility butterfly species took longer to colonise. We show that arable reversion is an effective tool for the management of butterfly communities. We suggest that as restoration takes time to achieve, its use as a mitigation tool against future environmental change (i.e. by decreasing isolation in fragmented landscapes) needs to take into account such time lags.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:30868
Uncontrolled Keywords:ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION; LIMITING FACTORS; PLANT TRAITS; CONSERVATION; DISPERSAL; MANAGEMENT; LANDSCAPE; INVERTEBRATES; ESTABLISHMENT; CONNECTIVITY
Publisher:Elsevier

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