The importance of viticultural landscape features and ecosystem service enhancement for native butterflies in New Zealand vineyards
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- Gillespie, M. & Wratten, S.D. J Insect Conserv (2012) 16: 13. doi:10.1007/s10841-011-9390-y
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The fragmentation of habitats in intensively managed farming landscapes is often considered to be partly responsible for butterfly population decline in Europe and the USA. Although relatively little is known about New Zealand butterfly ecology, agricultural landscapes in lowland New Zealand are managed similarly to those in Europe and ecosystem services (ES) in these landscapes are generally at a low level. In the northern hemisphere, attempts are being made to address the problem through agri-environment schemes, but such farmer compensation is not available in New Zealand. Instead, landowner- and research-led initiatives are currently the only potential approaches. One such project in the Canterbury province, New Zealand, is the Greening Waipara project. This aims to return native plants to viticultural landscapes and enhance ES, and while research has sought to quantify economic benefits of the project, there has been no work to establish if the plantings are improving or are likely to improve non-target invertebrate biodiversity, for example arthropods that are not biocontrol agents. In the first study of its kind in New Zealand, butterfly surveys were conducted in vineyards and linear mixed modelling techniques were used to identify the most important vegetation and structural features which may influence butterfly distribution. While the native planting areas were not important for butterflies, remnant patches of native vegetation in unproductive areas were vital for sedentary species. These results are discussed in relation to the conservation of native species in New Zealand vineyards and in the context of conservation in and around farmland in general.