The effect of coppice management on moth assemblages in an English woodland
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- Broome, A., Clarke, S., Peace, A. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 729. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9974-y
Coppice woodlands in Britain may become the target of increased management due to the rise in demand for woodfuel. The biodiversity value of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) coppice and the effect of coppice management upon this has received limited study. Moths were the focus of this study in an actively coppiced sweet chestnut woodland in southern England. Coupes, with between one and 20 years of coppice regrowth, were systematically sampled for night flying micro- and macro-moths and coppice structure and ground vegetation were described. Using differences in moth assemblage, three stages of coppice development were distinguished: with one-four, five-nine and more than 10 years of coppice regrowth. Differences in moth assemblage related to habitat conditions within each coppice stage. The young coppice stage moth assemblage was characterised by species typically associated with open habitats; moths of the middle coppice stage assemblage fed on trees and were species typically associated with open woodland and scrub habitats; moths of the mature coppice stage assemblage were species typically associated with closed canopy woodland and contained specialist species whose larval food consists of material such as lichen and decaying leaves. All three coppice stages supported species of listed conservation status; the mature coppice stage contained a distinctive range of scarce and threatened species. The study showed that active coppicing promotes a change in moth assemblage but consequently will temporarily eliminate many species of mature stage coppice. Management which provides a range of coppice age classes within a woodland, appears key in promoting moth diversity.