The influence of fine-scale habitat heterogeneity on invertebrate assemblage structure in upland semi-natural grassland

  • Published source details Cole L.J., Pollock M.L., Robertson D., Holland J.P., McCracken D.I. & Harrison W. (2010) The influence of fine-scale habitat heterogeneity on invertebrate assemblage structure in upland semi-natural grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 136, 69-80.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain upland heath/moorland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Maintain upland heath/moorland

    An unreplicated trial in 2002-2004 at an upland semi-natural grassland site in Scottish Borders, Scotland, UK (Cole et al. 2010) (partly the same study as (Cole et al. 2006)) found that grazing intensity and area of fine- and broad-leaved grasses influenced the assemblage structure of mobile arthropods, immobile invertebrates and ground beetles (Carabidae) at a range of spatial scales. Intensively grazed sites were associated with smaller mobile arthropods (e.g. money spiders (Linyphiidae)), cranefly (Tipulidae) larvae and earthworms (Lumbricidae), while less intensively grazed sites were associated with larger mobile arthropods (e.g. wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and ground beetles of the genus Carabus), sawfly larvae (Symphyta) and caterpillars (Lepidoptera). The effect of grazing became less apparent at smaller spatial scales (≤1 m radius), where fine-scale habitat characteristics like vegetation structure and composition were more important. Two large (>40 ha) plots were grazed by 3-4 sheep/ha from autumn 2002: one during June-September (low intensity grazing), the other year round (high intensity grazing). Invertebrates were sampled using pitfall transects (9 traps) at 15 locations/plot during May-June 2004. Vegetation patches were mapped for GIS analysis in a 30 m diameter circle around each transect, and 25-50 vegetation height/species measurements were made in each patch in June and August 2004.

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