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Butterfly and grasshopper diversity patterns in humid Mediterranean grasslands: the roles of disturbance and environmental factors

Journal of Insect Conservation

Abstract

The present paper studies butterfly, grasshopper and vascular plant communities in ten seasonally flooded grasslands with different anthropogenic disturbance regimes (NW Greece). Disturbance intensity was assessed on the basis of disturbance frequency and type (grazing, mowing, trampling, constructions). The distribution patterns of butterflies are regulated by humidity and elevation (Redundancy Analysis). Elevation, flower-heads abundance, low disturbance intensity and plant species richness predict grasshopper species richness well, while the latter together with humidity predict plant species richness (Generalized Linear Models). Chorthippus lacustris, a critically endangered endemic grasshopper species, is positively associated with humid microhabitats with high flower-heads abundance. An indicator value procedure reveals four butterfly species as being typical species for habitats with a pronounced character of hedgerows and tree lines. Conservation management of grassland butterflies should focus on the maintenance of the humid character of the humid grasslands as well as on the maintenance of hedgerows and tree lines. The reduction of human-induced disturbance towards occasional grazing and mowing seems to benefit both butterfly and grasshopper communities. Finally, we suggest the use of grasshoppers as surrogates for vascular plants and vice versa, given their congruent species richness patterns.

Author(s): Kati, V; Zografou, K; Tzirkalli, E; Chitos, T; Willemse, L

Journal: Journal of Insect Conservation

Year: 2012

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