Study

Variation in grazing management practices supports diverse butterfly communities across grassland working landscapes

  • Published source details Bendel C.R., Hovick T.J., Limb R.F. & Harmon J.P. (2018) Variation in grazing management practices supports diverse butterfly communities across grassland working landscapes. Journal of Insect Conservation, 22, 99-111.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use rotational grazing

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance in grasslands or other open habitats

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Use rotational grazing

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015–2016 in two grassland reserves in North Dakota, USA (Bendel et al. 2018) found that rotational grazing did not affect butterfly community composition, but did affect the species richness and abundance of individual species, compared to pastures managed by rotational grazing with mowing, season-long grazing, or patch-burn grazing. Rotational grazing did not affect butterfly community composition compared to other management (data presented as model results). Two out of nine species (meadow fritillary Boloria bellona and regal fritillary Speyeria idalia) were more abundant in rotationally grazed pastures, while two species (small pearl-bordered fritillary Boloria selene and purplish copper Lycaena helloides) were less abundant in rotationally grazed pastures than other management, and five species had a similar abundance between management types (see paper for details). Thirty butterfly species were recorded in rotationally grazed pastures, compared to 25 species in rotationally grazed pastures with mowing, 22 species in season-long grazed pastures and 26 species in patch-burned grazed pastures (statistical significance not assessed). Eight pastures (54–484 ha) managed under one of four management practices (rotational grazing, rotational grazing with lowland mowing, season-long grazing, patch-burn grazing) were selected. Rotational pastures were sub-divided into four paddocks, each grazed twice/season. In mown pastures, sedge-dominated patches were cut once/summer. On season-long pastures cattle were free to select grazing areas. One-third of each patch-burn grazed pasture was burned in the dormant season, but prior to April 2015 these sites were rotationally grazed. All other sites had the same management for at least a decade. Pastures were stocked with cattle (0.5–0.75 cow-calf pairs/ha) from May–October. From June–August 2015 and 2016, butterflies were surveyed three times/year along twelve 100-m transects/pasture.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance in grasslands or other open habitats

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015–2016 in two grassland reserves in North Dakota, USA (Bendel et al 2018) found that burning patches of pasture did not affect butterfly community composition, but did affect the species richness and abundance of individual species, compared to management by rotational grazing, rotational grazing with mowing, and season-long grazing. Patch-burning did not affect butterfly community composition compared to other management (data presented as model results). One out of nine species (purplish copper Lycaena helloides) was more abundant in patch-burned pastures, while three species (meadow fritillary Boloria bellona, regal fritillary Speyeria idalia and small pearl-bordered fritillary Boloria selene) were less abundant in patch-burned pastures than other management, and five species had a similar abundance between management types (see paper for details). Twenty-six butterfly species were recorded in patch-burned grazed pastures, compared to 30 species in rotationally grazed pastures, 25 species in rotationally grazed pastures with mowing and 22 species in season-long grazed pastures (statistical significance not assessed). Eight pastures (54–484 ha) managed under one of four management practices (patch-burn grazing, rotational grazing, rotational grazing with lowland mowing, season-long grazing) were selected. One-third of each patch-burn pasture was burned in the dormant season, but prior to April 2015 these sites were rotationally grazed. All other sites had the same management for at least a decade. Rotational pastures were sub-divided into four paddocks, each grazed twice/season. In mown pastures, sedge-dominated patches were cut once/summer. On season-long pastures cattle were free to select grazing areas. Pastures were stocked with cattle (0.5–0.75 cow-calf pairs/ha) from May–October. From June–August 2015 and 2016, butterflies were surveyed three times/year along twelve 100-m transects/pasture.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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