Faculté des sciences

What can sown wildflower strips contribute to butterfly conservation?: an example from a Swiss lowland agricultural landscape

Haaland, Christine ; Bersier, Louis-Félix

In: Journal of Insect Conservation, 2011, vol. 15, no. 1-2, p. 301-309

The objective of this study was to compare butterfly abundances and diversity between wildflower strips and extensively used meadows to identify which butterfly species can be supported by establishing wildflower strips. Butterflies were recorded along transects during one season in twenty-five sown wildflower strips and eleven extensively used meadows in a Swiss lowland agricultural landscape... Plus

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    Summary
    The objective of this study was to compare butterfly abundances and diversity between wildflower strips and extensively used meadows to identify which butterfly species can be supported by establishing wildflower strips. Butterflies were recorded along transects during one season in twenty-five sown wildflower strips and eleven extensively used meadows in a Swiss lowland agricultural landscape (600 ha). In total 1,669 butterflies of 25 species were observed (25 in the strips, 18 in meadows). This can be related to 38 species recorded in the region (lowland part of Kanton Fribourg) within the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. In wildflower strips the number of butterflies per transect meter was significantly higher than in the meadows, but there was no significant difference in species richness. Butterfly communities, though, were quite different between the two habitat types. Habitat type, abundances of flowering plants and presence of forest within 50 m were identified as factors influencing butterfly species richness. Butterfly abundances were affected by habitat type and abundance of flowering plants. In wildflower strips, 65% of all flower visits by butterflies were observed on Origanum. It can be concluded that sown wildflower strips can support a substantial part of a regions species pool. This is mostly true for common species, but can apply to rare species when, for example, larval food plant requirements are met.