Study

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

  • Published source details Woodcock B.A., Bullock J.M., Mortimer S.R., Brereton T., Redhead J.W., Thomas J.A. & Pywell R.F. (2012) Identifying time lags in the restoration of grassland butterfly communities: A multi-site assessment. Biological Conservation, 155, 50-58.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore arable land to permanent grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Restore or create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Restore arable land to permanent grassland

    A replicated, site comparison study (years not given) in 10 grasslands in England, UK (Woodcock et al. 2012) found that grasslands restored from bare soil by seeding developed butterfly communities increasingly similar to existing high-quality grasslands over the first 10 years after establishment, but the number of species present remained similar. The butterfly communities on grasslands restored by arable reversion were more similar to those on existing grasslands 10–21 years after restoration (42–84% similarity) than one year after restoration (0–33% similarity). However, the number of butterfly species recorded each year on arable reversion sites (~12 species/year) remained similar over time. Four grasslands were restored from bare soil by sowing grassland seed mixes. Three of the sites (two former arable fields and one abandoned road covered with top soil) were then managed by sheep-grazing to produce calcareous grassland, while the fourth site (ex-landfill covered with topsoil) was cut annually and grazed by sheep or cattle to produce a lowland hay meadow. Six high-quality grasslands (three calcareous grasslands and three hay meadows) were used for comparison. From April–September each year, butterflies were surveyed weekly on a ~2 km transect at each site for 9–21 years after restoration.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Restore or create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, site comparison study (years not given) in 10 grasslands in England, UK (Woodcock et al. 2012) found that grasslands restored by clearing scrub and restarting management did not develop butterfly communities more similar to existing high-quality grasslands, or increase the number of species present, over time since restoration. The similarity between the butterfly communities on restored and target grasslands did not increase with time since restoration, but was very variable between years (0–73% similarity). The number of butterfly species recorded each year on restored grasslands (~13–14 species/year) remained similar over time. Four species-poor grasslands dominated by competitive plants and scrub were restored by scrub removal.  Two of the sites were then managed by low intensity sheep grazing to produce calcareous grassland, while the other two were cut annually with aftermath cattle or sheep grazing to produce lowland hay meadows. Six high-quality grasslands (three calcareous grasslands and three hay meadows) were used for comparison. From April–September each year, butterflies were surveyed weekly on a ~2 km transect at each site for 12–21 years after restoration.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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