Differentiated management of alfalfa fields: a positive impact on butterfly populations (Lepidotera: Rhopalocera)

  • Published source details Manil L. & Chague J. (2014) Gestion différenciée des parcelles de luzerne. Un impact positif sur les papillons de jour (Lepidoptera : Rhopalocera). Revue d'Écologie (La Terre et La Vie), 69, 101-111.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave unharvested crop headlands within arable fields

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Leave unharvested crop headlands within arable fields

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2009–2010 on 24 farms in Champagne-Ardennes and Haute-Normandie, France (Manil & Chagué 2014) found that unharvested alfalfa Medicago sativa headlands had a higher abundance and species richness of butterflies than harvested alfalfa or wheat Triticum spp. fields. In unharvested strips of alfalfa, the abundance (53 individuals/transect) and species richness (4 species/transect) of butterflies was higher than in harvested alfalfa (abundance: 12–15 individuals/transect; richness: 2–3 species/transect) or in conventional wheat fields (abundance: 3–6 individuals/transect; richness: 1–2 species/transect). See paper for individual species results. On each of 24 farms, one alfalfa field was harvested conventionally 4–5 times/year, one alfalfa field had a rotational 7-m strip left unmown during each harvest, and one winter wheat field was managed conventionally. From May–September 2009–2010, butterflies were surveyed visually five times/year on two 200–400-m transects in each field (15–17 farms surveyed/year).

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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