Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

The significance of restored flower-rich hay meadows on set-aside land for butterflies and grasshoppers

“We analysed the faunistic significance of newly restored, flower-rich hay meadows (Arrhenatheretum, type of compensation area “”species rich grassland on arable set-aside land””) on behalf of the indicator species butterflies and grasshoppers. Altogether in 11 study areas, 27 butterfly species were found, 15 species being typical to extensively managed meadow habitats. Our results indicate butterfly abundance and species richness of newly restored meadows to be equal – or even superior to other farmland biotopes, such as old meadows, protected sites and in particular wildflower strips. For adult butterflies the food supply by flowers was of decisive importance. 72 % to 98 % of all flower visits were recorded on 5 flower species, only. While no butterfly species reproducing in the restored meadows figures on the red list, one grasshopper species frequently found and five sporadically registered species is indicated as endangered. Another species observed in the periphery of a restored meadow is even considered to be very endangered. The high faunistic significance of restored, flower-rich hay meadows lead us to the recommendation to reinstate governmental funding for extensively managed meadows on arable land to the same economic level as for other compensation areas (e.g. wildflower strips) motivating farmers to re-establish such surfaces of particular ecological importance.”

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