Effect of field margins on moths depends on species mobility: field-based evidence for landscape-scale conservation

  • Published source details Merckx T., Feber R.E., Dulieu R.L., Townsend M.C., Parsons M.S., Bourn N.A.D., Riordan P. & Macdonald D.W. (2009) Effect of field margins on moths depends on species mobility: field-based evidence for landscape-scale conservation. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 129, 302-309.


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 mark-release-recapture study in summer 2007 in Oxfordshire, UK (Merckx et al. 2009a) found overall higher abundance of nine common larger farmland moth (Lepidoptera) species in the margins and centres of arable fields with 6 m-wide perennial grass margins than in fields with standard about 1 m margins, but this varied highly between species. Six moth species which contributed to the higher abundance of moths in wide field margins were less mobile; moving a shorter distance between captures and being more frequently recaptured at the site of first capture. Nectar availability (number of flowerheads) was higher in wide margins, both for overall nectar plant species and plant species known to be moth favourites. Plant species richness and diversity was similar in hedgerows surrounding fields bordered with wide margins and with standard margins. Five Heath pattern actinic light traps (6 W) were positioned in each of four arable fields: one in the centre and one in each field margin (1 m from hedgerow). All traps were >100 m apart and >50 m from hedgerow intersections. Traps were operated on the 32 nights (dusk till dawn) with suitable weather between 5 June and 14 July. Nectar availability was assessed at each trap site on 25 June by counting the number of flowerheads present on field margins 10 m either side of the trap locations. Percentage cover and species richness of woody plant species (excluding trees) was estimated in hedges bordering the fields.

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