Historical, local and landscape factors determine the success of grassland restoration for arthropods

Woodcock, B.A. ORCID:; Pywell, R.F. ORCID:; Macgregor, N.A.; Edwards, M.E.; Redhead, J. ORCID:; Ridding, L.E.; Batáry, P.; Czerwiński, M.; Duffield, S.. 2021 Historical, local and landscape factors determine the success of grassland restoration for arthropods. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 308, 107271. 10, pp.

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In Europe, extensively managed grasslands have undergone large-scale declines due to intensive agriculture and abandonment. Their restoration supports arthropod biodiversity within farming systems. We investigated limiting factors for arthropod establishment during grassland restoration across a chronosequence of 52 restoration sites established by either natural regenerating or direct seeding. Our study covered 363 arthropod species of 10 orders, including detritivores, herbivores, predators and pollinators. These were sampled using pitfall traps, suction sampling and transect walks. The similarity of plant communities on restoration sites to target species rich grasslands was positively correlated with the similarity of the arthropod communities to these same grasslands. There was evidence that restoration sites located in landscapes suffering from historic large-scale loss of species rich grassland (1930–2015) had lower success in replicating the composition of arthropod communities and supported the lowest levels of species richness. The age of the restoration site was a predictor of restoration success for some trophic levels. For example, predator species richness was greatest in the oldest restoration sites. However, this was only the case were sites were either of large size or located in landscapes with the lowest historic loss of species rich grassland. Impacts of within site management also affected arthropod communities. The annual frequency of cutting negatively affected detritivores species richness, and selected against traits including herbivore monophagy. Overall arthropod species richness was positively correlated with sward height. These results emphasise the relative importance of the success with which the floral community is replicated, as well as landscape and management factors, during grassland restoration. This has implications for future agri-environmental schemes. In particular, achieving high quality within-site management that maximises establishment of the plant communities needs to be the initial focus of any restoration program.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0167-8809
Additional Keywords: arable recreation, calcareous grassland, ex-arable land, functional traits, arthropods, extinction debt, trait-environment correlations, trophic levels
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 27 Jan 2021 14:18 +0 (UTC)

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