Entire-area spring burning versus abandonment in grasslands: butterfly responses associated with hibernating traits
Entire-area spring burning is a common practice in many grasslands. Although there are many studies on the effects of entire-area spring burning on insects, the underlying mechanism of insect response is not well known. Herbivorous insect responses to spring burning are expected to be related to hibernating traits and grassland quality (host and nectar plants). I surveyed butterfly assemblages and vegetation characteristics (e.g., nectar flower occurrence, host plant richness, vegetation height, and vegetation coverage) as parameters of grassland quality for butterflies over 21 transects in 3 burned and 3 abandoned grasslands. Butterfly species were classified based on their hibernating traits, with a focus on endangered and grassland species. Although grassland quality as measured by nectar resources and host plants did not differ between the abandoned and burned grasslands, butterfly richness and abundance were lower in the burned grasslands. Each grassland, particularly two burned grasslands, supported a lower number of Red List grassland species, considering the presence of their host plants. Butterfly richness and abundance exhibited a unimodal response to vegetation height and were lower in burned grasslands; however, they were not related to other variables. Species associated with burned grasslands hibernated belowground or on the surface in sparse vegetation, whereas species associated with abandoned grasslands hibernated on the surface or aboveground. Therefore, although burning is an effective method to halt grassland decline, entire-area spring burning is detrimental to grassland butterfly species. Rotational patch fire and grassland restoration would be required to maintain grassland butterfly diversity.
KeywordsBiodiversity Fire Management Overwintering Temperate Japan Vegetation height
I thank Saki Maeda for assistance in the field. I am also grateful to Sho-ichi Hayami, Masahiko Kitahara, and Kyohei Watanabe for providing old butterfly data resources and Saki Maeda and Eri Katsumata for data organization. Comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly help to improve the manuscript. I also thank the local land owners and managers for permission to conduct the research and teaching me the previous grassland management. This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 16K07800.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.
The survey was performed based on observations, without damaging any butterflies, including endangered species.
- Andersen A, Simcox DJ, Thomas JA, Nash DR (2014) Assessing reintroduction schemes by comparing genetic diversity of reintroduced and source populations: a case study of the globally threatened large blue butterfly (Maculinea arion). Biol Conserv 175:34–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.04.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dufrêne M, Legendre P (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecol Monogr 67:345–366. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9615(1997)067%5b0345:saaist%5d2.0.co;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fukuda H, Hama E, Kuzuya T et al (1982, 1983, 1984a, 1984b) The life histories of butterflies in Japan, vols I, II, III, and IV. Hoikusha, Osaka (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Hartley MK, Rogers WE, Siemann E, Grace J (2007) Responses of prairie arthropod communities to fire and fertilizer: balancing plant and arthropod conservation. Am Mid Nat 157:92–105. https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031(2007)157%5b92:ropact%5d2.0.co;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hiura I (1971) An analysis of butterfly fauna of Japan from the standpoint of historical biogeography. Spec Bull Lep Soc Jpn 5:73–88 (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Japan Butterfly Conservation Society (2012) Field guide to the butterflies of Japan. Seibundo-Shinkosha, Tokyo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Kitahara M (2000) Food resource usage patterns of adult butterfly communities in woodland habitats at the northern foot of Mt. Fuji, central Japan. Jpn J Environ Entomol Zool 11:61–81 (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Mehta CR, Patel NR (1983) A network algorithm for performing fisher’s exact test in r × c contingency tables. J Am Stat Assoc 78:427–434Google Scholar
- Ministry of the Environment, Japan (2017) The 2017 Japanese Red List. Ministry of the Environment, Tokyo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Nagamori T, Nagamori H, Shibata T, Kuroda S, Ishiguro M (2016) The complete guide to butterflies of Hokkaido. Hokkaido University Press, Sapporo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Ogura J (2012) History of radically changed vegetation of Japan. Kokon-Shoin, Tokyo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Ohwaki A (2011) Butterfly assemblage in a snowy temperate satoyama area in Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture. Lepid Sci 62:64–74 (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Oksanen J, Blanchet FG, Kindt R et al (2015) Vegan: community ecology package. R package version 2.3-1. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=vegan. Accessed 28 Sept 2019
- Pärtel M, Bruun HH, Sammul M (2005) Biodiversity in temperate European grasslands: origin and conservation. In: Lillak R, Viiralt R, Linke A, Geherman V (eds) Integrating efficient grassland farming and biodiversity. Greif Printhouse, Tartu, pp 1–14Google Scholar
- Pollard E, Yates TJ (1993) Monitoring butterflies for ecology and conservation. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2015) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
- Shirozu T (2006) The butterflies of Japan in color. Gakken, Tokyo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
- Ushimaru A, Uchida K, Suka T (2018) Grassland biodiversity in Japan: threats, management and conservation. In: Squires V, Dengler J, Feng H, Hua L (eds) Grassland management: problems and prospects. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar