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Individual study: Reduced grazing intensity increases butterfly and grasshopper numbers on grasslands in a three year study in four European countries

Published source details

Wallis De Vries M.F., Parkinson A.E., Dulphy J.P., Sayer M. & Diana E. (2007) Effects of livestock breed and grazing intensity on biodiversity and production in grazing systems. 4. Effects on animal diversity. Grass and Forage Science, 62, 185-197


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use traditional breeds of livestock Bird Conservation

A replicated and controlled trial in four European countries (UK, Germany, France and Italy) from 2002-4 (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found no differences in bird numbers between areas grazed with traditional breeds of livestock and those grazed by commercial breeds. Birds were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. The traditional breeds were Devon, German Angus and Salers, compared with commercial Charolais x Fresian, Simmental and Charolais, in the UK, Germany and France respectively. In Italy traditional Karst sheep were compared with commercial Finnish Romanovs. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

 

Use traditional breeds of livestock Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated study from 2002 to 2004 in France, Germany and the UK (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) (same study as (Scimone et al. 2007)) found using traditional breeds of livestock to graze grasslands had no effect on the numbers of butterflies (Lepidoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), birds, European hares Lepus europaeus, or ground-dwelling arthropods in general, relative to commercial breeds. One insect group (‘other’ beetles (Coleoptera)) were more abundant in pitfall traps under grazing by traditional breeds, at two of the four sites: at the site in Germany this group mainly comprised sap beetles (Nitidulidae). The traditional cattle breeds were Devon, German Angus and Salers, compared with commercial Charolais x Fresian, Simmental and Charolais, in the UK, Germany and France respectively. Each treatment (leniently grazed with traditional or commercial livestock) was replicated three times at each site, in 0.4 to 3.6 ha paddocks. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Butterflies were counted once a fortnight from May to September and grasshoppers sampled with a sweep net each month from June to October, on three 50 m-long transects. Birds and hares were counted for seven minutes along a transect, fortnightly from May to October. Ground arthropods were sampled in twelve pitfall traps in each paddock, in spring, summer and early autumn. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.

 

Reduce grazing intensity Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial in four European countries (UK, Germany, France and Italy) from 2002-4 (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found that numbers of birds and bird species were not different between fields under low-intensity grazing, compared to intensively-grazed fields. Birds were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October in 2002-4, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. Exact grazing regimes differed between countries.

 

Reduce grazing intensity on grassland (including seasonal removal of livestock) Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated study from 2002 to 2004 in the UK, Germany and France (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) (same study as (Scimone et al. 2007)), found more butterflies (Lepidoptera) and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), and more butterfly and grasshopper species under lenient than moderate grazing. There were on average 42-47 vs 31 butterflies, and 10 vs 8 butterfly species/paddock/year under lenient compared to moderate grazing, and 56-60 vs 34 grasshoppers from 5 vs 4 grasshopper species/paddock/year under lenient compared to moderate grazing. Some groups of insects caught in pitfall traps were more abundant under lenient grazing at some, but not all, sites (for example, ground beetles (Carabidae) and rove beetles (Staphylinidae) at the UK site). Numbers of birds, bird species and European hares Lepus europaeus were not different between grazing treatments. Paddocks 0.4 to 3.6 ha in size were either moderately or leniently grazed with a commercial livestock breed, with treatments replicated three times. Actual grazing rates differed according to local conditions, but lenient grazing treatments were 0.3-0.4 fewer animals/ha than the moderate grazing rates. Sites were grazed continuously with cattle. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Butterflies were counted once a fortnight from May to September and grasshoppers sampled with a sweep net each month from June to October, on three 50 m-long transects. Birds and European hares were counted fortnightly in the early morning, from May to October, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. Ground arthropods were sampled in twelve pitfall traps at each paddock, in spring, summer and early autumn. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.