Agroscope FAL Reckenholz, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Zurich

Low intensity meadows harbour endangered grasshoppers

Ecological compensation measures (agri-environment schemes) in agriculture aim at the protection of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. An evaluation of the effectiveness of these measures in preserving and increasing biodiversity is therefore essential. We studied the grasshopper fauna on the most common type of ecological compensation areas in Switzerland (low intensity meadows) and compared it with the grasshopper fauna on high intensity meadows. The study was carried out in the municipalities of Bauma, Ruswil and Flühli. In the areas of Bauma and Flühli significantly more grasshopper species were found on low intensity compared with high intensity meadows. Eight species were found exclusively on low intensity meadows. These meadows often comprise small structures like wet elements or shrubs. They are a habitat for many specialized grasshopper species. Ruswil in contrary is situated in a more intensively used agricultural landscape. Here, no significant difference in species richness was found between low and high intensity meadows. In Ruswil there is a large deficit in species-rich habitats, which provide source populations for biodiversity in agriculture.

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