Study

Forest fuel management as a conservation tool for early successional species under agricultural abandonment: The case of Mediterranean butterflies

  • Published source details Verdasca M.J., Leitão A.S., Santana J., Porto M., Dias S. & Beja P. (2012) Forest fuel management as a conservation tool for early successional species under agricultural abandonment: The case of Mediterranean butterflies. Biological Conservation, 146, 14-23.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Mechanically remove mid-storey or ground vegetation to create fire breaks

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Mechanically remove mid-storey or ground vegetation to create fire breaks

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2005–2006 in 45 cork oak Quercus suber woodlands in Serra do Caldeirão, Portugal (Verdasca et al. 2012) found that areas with recent or regular mechanical clearance of woody understorey vegetation had a higher abundance and species richness of butterflies than less recently or regularly cleared areas. In the most recently cleared areas, the species richness of butterflies (13–21 species/plot) was higher than areas cleared 10–70 years ago (5–16 species/plot), while the abundance of butterflies was higher in areas cleared two years ago (86–117 individuals/plot) than in areas cleared 10–70 years ago (12–51 individuals/plot). Both species richness and abundance were higher in areas managed 0.6–0.8 times/decade (richness: 11–21 species/plot; abundance: 27–100 individuals/plot) than in areas managed 0.0–0.2 times/decade (richness: 5–16 species/plot; abundance: 13–51 individuals/plot). However, some species were more abundant in areas cleared less frequently or longer ago (see paper for details). Forty-five 1-ha plots in forests with >30% canopy of cork oak were selected. Plots were >800 m apart, and none had been affected by fire. The time since woody understorey clearance, and the number of clearances/decade, in each plot were inferred from aerial photographs (taken in 1958, 1972, 1985, 1995 and 2002), vegetation surveys and landowner interviews in 2004. Butterflies were surveyed on a 10-minute count five times/plot, in June/July, August and September 2005, and April and May 2006.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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