Study

The use of farmland by butterflies: a study on mixed farmland and field margins

  • Published source details Field R.G., Gardiner T. & Watkins G. (2007) The use of farmland by butterflies: a study on mixed farmland and field margins. Entomologist's Gazette, 58, 3-15

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, controlled study in the summers of 1997-2000 and 2003 in Essex, UK (Field et al. 2007) found that naturally regenerated 6 m margins had higher plant species richness (35 species) than grass-sown 6 m-margins (20 species), seven years after margin establishment under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance was higher in 6 m-wide Countryside Stewardship Scheme margins (naturally regenerated and grass-sown margins not distinguished) than in control margins. Comparisons between 6 m-margins (naturally regenerated and grass-sown margins not distinguished) and control sections showed 54 vs 19 butterflies/km/visit. The meadow brown butterfly Maniola jurtina also occurred in higher numbers in Countryside Stewardship Scheme field margins: 6 m-margins (naturally regenerated and grass-sown margins not distinguished) and their control sections had 22 vs 5/km/visit. Butterfly abundance and species richness did not change over the study period in either 6 m-margins or in a transect across farmland. Six metre-margins were established on three farms either through natural regeneration or by sowing with a grass-seed mixture, and all cut annually after 15 July.

  2. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, controlled study in the summers of 1997-2000 and 2003 in Essex, UK (Field et al. 2007b) found that butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance was higher in 2 m and 6 m-wide Countryside Stewardship Scheme margins than in control margins (field edges without established grass margins). Comparisons between grass-sown 2 m-margins and control sections showed 64 vs 24 butterflies/km/visit and 54 vs 19 for 6 m-margins (study does not distinguish between the effects of sown and naturally regenerated 6 m-margins). The meadow brown butterfly Maniola jurtina also occurred in higher numbers in Countryside Stewardship Scheme field margins, 2 m-margins and their control sections had 15 vs 4 individuals/km/visit, 6 m-margins had 22 vs 5/km/visit. Butterfly abundance and species richness did not change over the study period in either 2 or 6 m-margins or in a transect across farmland. Plant species richness declined significantly within sown field margins of both widths from 1998 to 2003 as the sown grass species became dominant. Sown 6 m-margins had lower plant species richness in 2003 (20 species) compared with naturally regenerated 6 m-margins (35 species). Eleven margins were studied on three farms. Two metre-margins were sown with a grass-only seed mixture and the vegetation left uncut after the first year. Six metre-margins were established through natural regeneration or by sowing, all cut annually after 15 July. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as Field et al. 2005, Field & Mason 2005, Field et al. 2006, Field et al. 2007a.

Output references

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