Pesticide use on cereal crops and changes in the abundance of butterflies on arable farmland in England

  • Published source details Rands M.R.W. & Sotherton N.W. (1986) Pesticide use on cereal crops and changes in the abundance of butterflies on arable farmland in England. Biological Conservation, 36, 71-82.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A replicated, controlled, paired study in 1984 of headlands of 14 arable fields in Hampshire, UK (Rands & Sotherton 1986) found that butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance was greater on conservation (unsprayed) headlands than on sprayed headlands. Twenty-two species of butterfly were recorded, 21 of which were on conservation and 17 on sprayed headlands. Significantly more individuals were found on conservation (868) than on sprayed headlands (297). Of the seventeen species recorded on more than one transect section, 13 were significantly more abundant on the conservation (11-140) than sprayed headlands (0-59). For half of the 14 fields, a 6 m strip around the edge (headland) was left unsprayed, the remainder received conventional pesticide applications. Butterflies were sampled along a transect at least once a week from 9 May to 15 August 1984. Sprayed and conservation headlands were paired with similar adjacent habitats. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as (Rands et al. 1984, Rands 1985, Rands 1986, Dover et al. 1990, Sotherton 1991, Dover 1997).


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