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Keywords:

  • agriculture;
  • agri-environment scheme;
  • ecological compensation area;
  • farmland biodiversity;
  • generalist species;
  • specialist species

The effects of habitat restoration measures designated to promote farmland biodiversity have been documented at the field scale, but little is known about their role in restoring the agricultural mosaic. In this study, we analyzed the effects of wildflower strips (WFS) at the field scale and in the landscape context on butterflies in a Swiss arable landscape. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) butterfly diversity and abundance are higher in WFS than in conventional fields; (2) butterfly diversity and abundance are enhanced by the amount, proximity and connectivity of WFS in the landscape context; (3) additional factors influence butterfly diversity and abundance according to individual site conditions and landscape context characteristics linked to other landscape elements. WFS had more species and individuals of butterflies than conventional habitats. However, promoted species were mainly generalists; few specialists were enhanced. The diversity of all butterflies and of generalists increased linearly with percent cover of WFS, reflecting an effect of restoration measures depending on the landscape context. The influence of proximity and connectivity of WFS were, however, not significant. The occurrence of specialists was conditioned by plant species richness, while the effect of WFS for overall diversity was affected by the amount of grassland in the surroundings. We conclude that to increase the effectiveness of biodiversity-orientated restoration measures, their implementation should be steered toward increasing the share of WFS in the landscape. However, the combination of WFS with additional restoration measures might be needed to halt the decline of specialist species.