Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 1–2, pp 301–309 | Cite as

What can sown wildflower strips contribute to butterfly conservation?: an example from a Swiss lowland agricultural landscape

  • Christine HaalandEmail author
  • Louis-Félix Bersier
Original Paper


The objective of this study was to compare butterfly abundances and diversity between wildflower strips and extensively used meadows to identify which butterfly species can be supported by establishing wildflower strips. Butterflies were recorded along transects during one season in twenty-five sown wildflower strips and eleven extensively used meadows in a Swiss lowland agricultural landscape (600 ha). In total 1,669 butterflies of 25 species were observed (25 in the strips, 18 in meadows). This can be related to 38 species recorded in the region (lowland part of Kanton Fribourg) within the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. In wildflower strips the number of butterflies per transect meter was significantly higher than in the meadows, but there was no significant difference in species richness. Butterfly communities, though, were quite different between the two habitat types. Habitat type, abundances of flowering plants and presence of forest within 50 m were identified as factors influencing butterfly species richness. Butterfly abundances were affected by habitat type and abundance of flowering plants. In wildflower strips, 65% of all flower visits by butterflies were observed on Origanum. It can be concluded that sown wildflower strips can support a substantial part of a regions species pool. This is mostly true for common species, but can apply to rare species when, for example, larval food plant requirements are met.


Agri-environmental schemes Flower visits Grassland management Larval food plant Larval habitat Regional species pool Switzerland 



We want to thank Jacques Studer and Christian Imesch from the Ökobüro in Fribourg for providing all information on ecological compensation areas in the study area including maps. We are also very thankful to Matthias Plattner, Hintermann & Weber AG, Basel, for the provision of the butterfly data from the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (BDM). All farmers are thanked for allowing access to their land. Two anonymous reviewers have contributed to improve the manuscript. CH was financed by the Swedish Research Council FORMAS and LFB by the Swiss National Science Foundation (3100A0-113843).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape Management, Design and ConstructionSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Unit Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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