Article

Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 363-374

First online:

The Success of a Rotational Grazing System in Conserving the Diversity of Chalk Grassland Auchenorrhyncha

  • M.G. MorrisAffiliated withScientific Associate, The Natural History MuseumFormerly Furzebrook Research StationM.G. Morris Email author 
  • , R.T. ClarkeAffiliated withFormerly Furzebrook Research StationCentre for Ecology and Hydrology Dorset, Winfrith, Technology Centre, Winfrith Newburgh
  • , W.E. RispinAffiliated withFormerly Furzebrook Research StationCentre for Ecology and Hydrology Dorset, Winfrith, Technology Centre, Winfrith Newburgh

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Abstract

A complex rotational grazing trial on a south-facing slope of chalk grassland at the Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve is briefly introduced. The responses of 23 numerous species of Auchenorrhyncha, and of species richness (S) and total abundance (N), from 1981 to 1985 are described. The greatest effects were those of variation between years, between positions on the hillside (top, middle and bottom) and between grazing plots within these positions. 10 (of the total of 23) species favoured the top of the slope, where the vegetation was significantly taller than in the middle or at the bottom. S, N and the numbers of 8 species were significantly lower on plots grazed in the year of sampling compared with ungrazed plots. Early (vs. late) grazing significantly reduced S, N and the abundance of two species, but increased the numbers of Macrosteles laevis. S, N and the abundance of 13 species was significantly and positively correlated with vegetation height measured early (May–June) and late (July–October); the numbers of 4 other species were so correlated with the latter height only. The significance of the results is discussed in relation to the management of grassland nature reserves for the maintenance of high invertebrate diversity. It is concluded that rotational management is an important and valuable system, but suggested that such systems should be as simple as possible whilst remaining adequate to achieve conservation objectives.

Keywords

Auchenorrhyncha Chalk grassland Hillside position Rotational grazing Vegetation height