Study

Successful restoration of moth abundance and species-richness in grassland created under agri-environment schemes

  • Published source details Alison J., Duffield S.J., Morecroft M.D., Marrs R.H. & Hodgson J.A. (2017) Successful restoration of moth abundance and species-richness in grassland created under agri-environment schemes. Biological Conservation, 213, 51-58.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore arable land to permanent grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Restore arable land to permanent grassland

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2015 on 22 farms in Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire, UK (Alison et al. 2017) found that restored grassland supported a higher abundance of moths than unrestored arable fields, and was similar to semi-natural grassland sites. Three to 20 years after restoration, the abundance of moths associated with calcareous grassland (6.3 individuals/trap) and other grassland (49.6 individuals/trap) on restored fields were higher than on arable fields (calcareous: 0.8; other: 14.6 individuals/trap), and similar to semi-natural grassland (calcareous: 7.2; other: 38.3 individuals/trap). The abundance of moths associated with other habitats was higher on restored (25.5 individuals/trap) than unrestored fields (15.3 individuals/trap), but lower than on semi-natural grassland sites (57.9 individuals/trap). Results for species occurrence were similar (data not presented). However, neither moth abundance nor occurrence increased with time since restoration (data not presented). Over 3–20 years, 32 former arable fields (2.6–37.5 ha) on 22 farms were restored to species-rich grassland by either natural regeneration or sowing of wildflowers. All were cut or grazed at least once/year. Thirty-two paired, arable fields (2.2–49.3 ha) were unrestored, and eight semi-natural calcareous grasslands were used for comparison. On 21 nights between June–September 2015, moths were surveyed twice/site (2–4 restored-unrestored pairs/night, with a comparison site on >50% of nights) using one 15 W light trap in the centre of each field. Moths were classified as species associated with calcareous grassland, associated with grassland generally, or not associated with grassland.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2015 on 22 farms in Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire, UK (Alison et al. 2017) found that grassland restored through agri-environment schemes supported more moths than unrestored arable fields, and was similar to semi-natural grassland sites. Three to 20 years after restoration, the abundance of moths associated with calcareous grassland (6.3 individuals/trap) and other grassland (49.6 individuals/trap) on restored fields were higher than on arable fields (calcareous: 0.8; other: 14.6 individuals/trap), and similar to semi-natural grassland (calcareous: 7.2; other: 38.3 individuals/trap). The abundance of moths associated with other habitats was higher on restored (25.5 individuals/trap) than unrestored fields (15.3 individuals/trap), but lower than on semi-natural grassland sites (57.9 individuals/trap). Results for species occurrence were similar (data not presented). However, neither moth abundance nor occurrence increased with time since restoration (data not presented). Over 3–20 years, 32 former arable fields (2.6–37.5 ha) on 22 farms were restored to species-rich grassland by either natural regeneration or sowing of wildflowers, paid for by agri-environment schemes. All were cut or grazed at least once/year. Thirty-two paired, arable fields (2.2–49.3 ha) were unrestored, and eight semi-natural calcareous grasslands were used for comparison. On 21 nights between June–September 2015, moths were surveyed twice/site (2–4 restored-unrestored pairs/night, with a comparison site on >50% of nights) using one 15 W light trap in the centre of each field. Moths were classified as species associated with calcareous grassland, associated with grassland generally, or not associated with grassland.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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