1Biodiversity and Conservation Management Group, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK 2Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, Department of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AR, UK 3CABI Europe - UK, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9TY, UK
During the last century changing patterns of land use in the UK have led to the large scale loss and degradation of species-rich chalk grasslands, a habitat of conservation importance across Europe. In particular, the conversion of chalk grasslands into arable land has represented a major threat to this habitat type. The re-creation of chalk grasslands on ex-arable land therefore has the potential to both increase the area of this threatened habitat, and to provide links between existing remnant fragments. We present a four year study investigating the effects of three different methods of introducing plant species during grassland re-creation: 1) a simple grass seed mix, intended to suppress the aBSTRACT
* Corresponding author: Ben Woodcock. E-mail: [email protected] Tel.: +44(0)1491692415; Fax: +44(0)1491692424. Contact address: Biodiversity and Conservation Management Group, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, 0X10 8BB, UK.
establishment of pernicious weeds; 2) spreading of hay; and 3) sowing of brush harvested seeds. The latter two methods introduce local provenance seeds collected from species-rich chalk grassland. Using a replicated block design we investigate the efficacy of these management practices in promoting the re-creation of both plant and phytophagous beetle assemblages. We compare re-creation success relative to a target chalk grassland and contrast differences in the responses between these two trophic levels. The introduction of local provenance seeds by hay spreading and brush harvesting is shown to be beneficial during re-creation. However, if used in combination with simple grass-only seed mixtures the establishment of some chalk grassland species may be reduced. We discuss the relevance of these findings for the re-creation of plant and phytophagous beetle assemblages of species-rich grasslands on ex-arable land. We also consider the implications of differences in establishment rates between these two taxa for the long term success of habitat creation.
Keywords: brush harvesting, chalk grassland, hay spreading, hay strewing, leaf beetles, re-creation, seed mixes, weevils
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