Butterflies in semi-natural pastures and power-line corridors – effects of flower richness, management, and structural vegetation characteristics

Authors


Abstract

  1. The aim of this study was to compare the butterfly assemblages in semi-natural pastures and power-line corridors and to analyse the effects of vegetation height, occurrence of trees and shrubs and different flowering vascular plant groups on butterfly diversity and abundance.
  2. Twelve of 26 analysed butterfly species were more abundant in power-line corridors than in semi-natural pastures. Only one species preferred semi-natural pastures.
  3. In semi-natural pastures butterflies were most common in segments with tall vegetation, whereas butterflies in power-line corridors were most common in segments with vegetation of short or intermediate height. Short vegetation was sparser in power-line corridors (mean cover 4%) than in semi-natural pastures (33%), whereas tall vegetation was more common in power-line corridors (59%) than in semi-natural pastures (35%).
  4. The amount of flowers was the factor that affected the abundance of most species. Twenty-one of the 26 species showed positive associations with numbers of flowers of different families.
  5. Flowers of the plant families Apiaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Primulaceae, Rubiaceae, Scrophulariaceae, and Violaceae showed positive associations with the abundance of several butterfly species.
  6. Vegetation height seems to be a limiting factor in semi-natural pastures, and less intensive management (division of pastures into grazing pens, late season grazing, grazing every second year, or reduced grazing pressure) would benefit butterflies. In power-line corridors (dominated by tall vegetation) the opposite would be beneficial for butterflies, for example more frequent clearing of vegetation along the power-line trails combined with mowing of selected areas.

Ancillary