Manage wetlands or ponds by grazing or cutting to prevent succession

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Three studies evaluated the effects on butterflies and moths of managing wetlands or ponds by grazing or cutting. Two studies were in the Netherlands and one was in Switzerland.


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): One replicated, site comparison study in Switzerland found that fens managed by mowing had a greater species richness of butterflies than fens managed by cattle grazing.


  • Abundance (1 study): One replicated, site comparison study in the Netherlands found that recently cut fens had fewer large copper eggs than uncut fens.
  • Survival (2 studies): Two replicated, site comparison studies in the Netherlands found that large copper caterpillar survival was lower in recently cut fens, and fens cut in autumn or winter, than in uncut fens.



About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, site comparison study in 1994–1996 in a fenland in Overijssel, the Netherlands (Pullin 1997) found that three recently cut fen habitats had fewer large copper Lycaena dispar batavus eggs and lower caterpillar survival than two uncut fen habitats. There were fewer large copper eggs on plants in cut fen meadows (0.2–0.3 eggs/plant) than on plants in cut (0.3–0.8 eggs/plant) or uncut (1.8–1.9 eggs/plant) watersides, and the most eggs were found in uncut fen edges (4.2–5.7 eggs/plant). No eggs were found in cut reed fields. In addition, no caterpillars were found in cut fen meadows (from 70 eggs), and caterpillar survival was only marginally higher in cut watersides (11–13 caterpillars from 102 eggs) than in uncut watersides (11–23 caterpillars from 280 eggs) or uncut fen edges (13–31 caterpillars from 425 eggs). Five fenland habitats with different management were surveyed. Fen meadows were cut in patches in August–September; watersides were split into cut (in the preceding year) or uncut areas; fen edges along old ditches were uncut; and reed fields were cut commercially in winter. In August 1994 and 1995, the number of eggs were counted on every water dock Rumex hydrolapathum encountered 1 m either side of 2–5 transects/year (40–200 m long) through each habitat type. In late May 1995 and early June 1996, the number of surviving caterpillars were counted on the same plants.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, site comparison study in 1996 in 24 montane fens in Switzerland (Wettstein & Schmid 1999) found that fens managed by mowing had more species of butterfly than fens managed by cattle grazing. The species density of butterflies was higher on mown fens (8.9 species/transect) than on grazed fens (7.7 species/transect). Twelve of 23 fens (0.8–15.4 ha) were managed by mowing, and 11 by cattle grazing. From July–August 1996, butterflies were surveyed once on a 10-minute walk along each of three 540-m transects/fen.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated, site comparison study in 1996–1998 in nine fens in Overijssel, the Netherlands (Nicholls & Pullin 2000) found that fens cut in autumn or winter had lower large copper Lycaena dispar batavus caterpillar survival than uncut fens. The overwinter survival of large copper caterpillars in fens cut in autumn or winter (2–3%/year: 5/176 caterpillars found) was lower than in unmanaged fens (15–20%/year: 36/222 caterpillars found). In 1996–1998, four fens within a 3,500-ha lowland bog in the Netherlands were cut in autumn or winter, and five fens were not cut. In 1996–1997, wild large copper eggs were counted on every great water dock Rumex hydrolapathum plant encountered along a transect through each site. Plants were revisited three weeks later, and in April the following year, to record caterpillar survival.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Bladon A.J., Bladon, E. K., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2023) Butterfly and Moth Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for butterflies and moths. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Butterfly and Moth Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Butterfly and Moth Conservation
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Butterfly and Moth Conservation - Published 2023

Butterfly and Moth Synopsis

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