Agri-environment schemes and butterflies: the utilisation of two metre arable field margins

  • Published source details Field R.G., Gardiner T., Mason C.F. & Hill J. (2007) Agri-environment schemes and butterflies: the utilisation of two metre arable field margins. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16, 465-474.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, controlled study in 1997-2000 in Essex, UK (Field et al. 2007a) found that total butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance was higher in grass margins (average 66.6 butterflies) than in control sections (field edges without margins) (average 25.6). Of the ‘key’ grassland butterfly species, both meadow brown Maniola jurtina and skipper butterflies Thymelicus spp. had higher abundance in sown grass margins (average 15.5 and 13.9 individuals respectively) than in controls (average 3.6 and 1.2 respectively). Between 1997 and 2000 there was a significant reduction in the abundance of total butterflies (from an average of 100.6 to 47.0), Thymelicus spp. (from 32.4 to 3.9) and large skipper Ochlodes venata (from 15.3 to 0.6) in the margins. During the same time, the average abundance of gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus increased from 2.2 to 12.9 in the margins. Grass margins were established as described in (Field & Mason 2005). Butterfly abundance was monitored weekly along transects from late June to early August 1997-2000. All butterflies were recorded, but special note was taken of ‘key’ grassland species: meadow brown, gatekeeper, small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris, Essex skipper T. lineola, large skipper. This study is part of the same experimental set-up as Field et al. 2005, Field & Mason 2005, Field et al. 2006, Field et al. 2007b.

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