Populations of a shrub-feeding butterfly thrive after introduction of restorative shrub cutting on formerly abandoned calcareous grassland

  • Published source details Helbing F., Cornils N., Stuhldreher G. & Fartmann T. (2015) Populations of a shrub-feeding butterfly thrive after introduction of restorative shrub cutting on formerly abandoned calcareous grassland. Journal of Insect Conservation, 19, 457-464.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore or create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Restore or create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2013 on 17 calcareous grasslands in the Diemel Valley, Germany (Helbing et al. 2015) found that grasslands restored by shrub cutting had a higher occupancy and density of blue-spot hairstreak Satyrium spini eggs than unrestored grassland. In restored grasslands, more small buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica bushes had blue-spot hairstreak eggs (20%) than in unrestored (9%) or continuously managed (3%) grasslands. The density and size of egg batches on small bushes were higher in restored grasslands (density: 1.8 batches/plant; size: 2.6 eggs/batch) than in unrestored grasslands (density: 1.0 batches/plant; size: 1.4 eggs/batch). Continuously managed grasslands were intermediate (density: 1.4 batches/plant; size: 2.2 eggs/batch). There were no differences in occupancy, density or size of batches on large buckthorn bushes (see paper for details). Five restored grasslands had been abandoned for >15 years before shrubs were cut back four years before monitoring, and had a high density of small buckthorn (height <130 cm). Five unrestored grasslands had been abandoned for >20 years, and had a dense shrub layer. Seven continuously managed grasslands had been grazed, with irregular mulching, for >20 years, and contained both large (height >130 cm) and small buckthorn. Grasslands were similar in size (ca. 0.9 ha) and separated by >50 m of unsuitable habitat. In March 2013, every buckthorn in each grassland was searched for >10mins to record hairstreak eggs. The number of egg batches/plant, and the number of eggs/batch, were recorded.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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