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Grazing management of calcareous grasslands and its implications for the conservation of beetle communities

Woodcock, B. A., Pywell, R. F., Roy, D. B., Rose, R. J. and Bell, D. (2005) Grazing management of calcareous grasslands and its implications for the conservation of beetle communities. Biological Conservation, 125 (2). pp. 193-202. ISSN 0006-3207

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.03.017


Calcareous grasslands are an important habitat for floral and faunal communities in the UK and Europe. Declines due to changes in management, scrub invasion and agricultural improvement have left much of the remnants of this habitat in a degraded and fragmented state. Grazing, by cattle or sheep, is one of the main management practices used to maintain and improve the floral and faunal quality of calcareous grassland. The long-term impacts of different grazing regimes, however, are poorly understood, particularly in terms of the invertebrate communities. This study contrasted the impacts of recently introduced and long-term sheep or cattle grazing on beetle communities present on one of the largest areas of calcareous grassland in Europe, the Salisbury Plain military training Area, UK. No effects of grazing management on beetle abundance, species. richness or evenness were found, but plant diversity and overall percentage cover of grasses did influence beetle diversity. Proportions of the total number of individuals and overall species richness within beetle guilds (predatory, phytophagous, flower/seed feeders, root feeders and foliage feeders) were strongly influenced by both the duration and type of grazing animal. At the species level, beetle community structure showed significant differences between ungrazed, long-term cattle and long-term sheep grazing treatments. Changes in plant community structure were found to influence beetle community structure. The significance of these results is discussed in terms of the long-term impacts of grazing on beetle community structure, and the benefits of different grazing regimes for the conservation management of calcareous grasslands. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:9402
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodiversity, chalk grassland, coleoptera, conservation management, guilds, restoration, UNGRAZED CHALK GRASSLAND, INVERTEBRATE FAUNAS, ARABLE LAND, DIVERSITY, ABUNDANCE, RESPONSES, INSECTS, REGIMES

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