, Volume 154, Issue 4, pp 773-783

Contrasting success in the restoration of plant and phytophagous beetle assemblages of species-rich mesotrophic grasslands

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Abstract

Over the last 60 years changes to the management of species-rich mesotrophic grasslands have resulted in the large-scale loss and degradation of this habitat across Europe. Restoration of such grasslands on agriculturally improved pastures provides a potentially valuable approach to the conservation of these threatened areas. Over a four-year period a replicated block design was used to test the effects of seed addition (green hay spreading and brush harvest collection) and soil disturbance on the restoration of phytophagous beetle and plant communities. Patterns of increasing restoration success, particularly where hay spreading and soil disturbance were used in combination, were identified for the phytophagous beetles. In the case of the plants, however, initial differences in restoration success in response to these same treatments were not followed by subsequent temporal changes in plant community similarity to target mesotrophic grassland. It is possible that the long-term consequences of the management treatments would not be the establishment of beetle and plant communities characteristic of the targets for restoration. Restoration management to enhance plant establishment using hay spreading and soil disturbance techniques would, however, still increase community similarity in both taxa to that of species-rich mesotrophic grasslands, and so raise their conservation value.

Communicated by W. Weisser.