Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 215–226 | Cite as

Diversification of mowing regime increases arthropods diversity in species-poor cultural hay meadows

  • O. CizekEmail author
  • J. Zamecnik
  • R. Tropek
  • P. Kocarek
  • M. Konvicka


Agricultural intensification reduces the biodiversity of European farmlands. Hay meadows represent an important farmland habitat, traditionally used to produce hay. With decreased demand for hay, the continuation of hay harvest is supported by Agri-environmental schemes across European Union. Modern hay harvest techniques differ from traditional manual harvest by removing the grass instantaneously over large land areas. To minimize adverse effects on meadow invertebrates, diversifying harvest operations is time and space is often recommended, but effects of such diversification are little studied. We compared the impact of uniform hay harvests with harvests executed in patchy manners, using four arthropod groups (butterflies, ground beetles, orthopterans and spiders) at productive, species-poor meadows in the Czech Republic. Butterflies, observed along transects, avoided uniformly cut units, preferring those cut as strips or blocks. In the three remaining groups, recorded using pitfall traps, a majority of species prevailed in traps located in uncut conditions. Synchronous mowing of large areas suppresses population sizes and diminishes the diversity of common arthropods. Besides of direct mortality and depletion of such resources as nectar or shelter, it synchronises sward regrowth, threatening also species requiring short-sward patches. Uniformly executed mowing contradicts the biodiversity conservation goal of Agri-environmental schemes. Diversifying the mowing operations via temporary fallows, or sequential mowing of land units, will improve the situation for common cultural meadows.


Hay meadows Arthropods conservation Mowing regimes Species diversity Agri-environmental schemes Agricultural landscape 



This study originated during the preparation of the management plan for the Babiččino údolí reserve. We would like to thank T. Bury, S. Korinkova and M. Kubiczkova for help with data collection; A. Kodadkova, T. Lamosova, J. J. Michalek and K. Novakova for material sorting; J. Benes and J. Blizek for ground beetles determination; P. Smilauer for help with analyses design; M. Sweney for English corrections; and J. Benes and P. Vrba for valuable comments; and two anonymous referees for useful suggestions. Funding was provided by the Czech Agency for Nature Conservation (PPK-35a/62/06), the Czech Ministry of Education (LC 06073, MSM 6007665801) and Environment (SP/2D3/62/08) and the Czech Science Foundation (208/08/H044).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Cizek
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. Zamecnik
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. Tropek
    • 2
    • 4
  • P. Kocarek
    • 5
  • M. Konvicka
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Hutur NGOHradec KraloveCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec KraloveHradec KraloveCzech Republic
  4. 4.Institute of EntomologyCzech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  5. 5.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of OstravaOstravaCzech Republic

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