Conservation of a strongly declining butterfly species depends on traditionally managed grasslands
|Biodiversity & Conservation; Biodiversity Conservation; Entomology; Grazing; Habitat structure; Host plant; Land-use change; Mire ecosystem; Mowing
|JOURNAL OF INSECT CONSERVATION
Introduction: Due to land-use intensification at productive soils and abandonment of marginal farmland, biodiversity has dramatically declined throughout Europe. The dryad (Minois dryas) is a grassland butterfly that has strongly suffered from land-use change across Central Europe. Aims/Methods: Here, we analysed the habitat preferences of adult M. dryas and the oviposition-site preferences in common pastures located in mire ecosystems of the German pre-Alps. Results: Our study revealed that plot occupancy was equal at common pastures and control plots. However, the abundance of M. dryas was higher at common pastures, although the composition of vegetation types did not differ between the two plot types. Discussion: Open fens and transition mires traditionally managed as common pastures or litter meadows (= meadows mown in autumn to obtain bedding for livestock) were the main habitats of M. dryas in our study area. They offered (i) sufficient host plants (Carex spp.), (ii) had a high availability of nectar resources and (iii) a vegetation that was neither too sparse nor too short. In contrast, both abandonment and intensive land use had negative impacts on the occurrence of the endangered butterfly species. Implications for Insect Conservation Based on our study and other recent research from the common pastures, we recommend to maintain the current grazing regime to foster biodiversity in general and M. dryas in particular. Additionally, where possible, abandoned fens and transition mires adjacent to common pastures should be integrated into the low-intensity pasture systems. The preservation of traditionally managed litter meadows is the second important possibility to conserve M. dryas populations.
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checked on Feb 23, 2024