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

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.

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Although grasslands are crucial habitats for European butterflies, large-scale declines in quality and area have devastated many species. Grasslandrestoration can contribute to the recovery of butterfly populations, although there is a paucity of information on the long-term effects of management. Using eight UK data sets (9–21 years), we investigate changes in restoration success for (1) arable reversion sites, were grassland was established on bare ground using seed mixtures, and (2) grassland enhancement sites, where degraded grasslands are restored by scrub removal followed by the re-instigation of cutting/grazing. We also assessed the importance of individual butterfly traits and ecological characteristics in determining colonisation times. Consistent increases in restoration success over time were seen for arable reversion sites, with the most rapid rates of increase in restoration success seen over the first 10 years. For grasslands enhancement there were no consistent increases in restoration success over time. Butterfly colonisation times were fastest for species with widespread host plants or where host plants established well during restoration. Low mobility butterfly species took longer to colonise. We show that arable reversion is an effective tool for the management of butterflycommunities. We suggest that as restoration takes time to achieve, its use as a mitigation tool against future environmental change (i.e. by decreasing isolation in fragmented landscapes) needs to take into account such time lags.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biological Conservation. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Biological Conservation, 155. 50-58. 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.05.013
Additional Keywords: arable reversion, calcareous, grassland enhancement, mesotrophic, functional traits, recreation
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 12 Sep 2012 15:38 +0 (UTC)

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