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WallisDeVries M.F.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | Ens S.H.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2010

In areas with intensive land use, such as the Netherlands, habitat fragmentation and loss of habitat quality due to eutrophication and drainage are major threats to the preservation of species-rich communities of heathland and acid grassland. Restoration of such nutrient-poor habitats may be carried out by removing the topsoil from ex-arable land, in order to lower the nutrient levels. However, the establishment of target plant communities is known to be fragmentary. The current study shows that this also applies to butterflies. Ten years after topsoil removal in eight study areas, on average, only 3.5 of 10 characteristic heathland species were recorded on the sites. Species that did colonize had a significantly lower density than in the source populations. Our study indicates that although isolation effects were limiting colonization, poor habitat quality was the main limiting factor, mainly due to lack of host plants, hydrological conditions, and, to a lesser extent, lack of nectar plants and excessive residual nutrient levels. An experiment with the introduction of cut heather in one study area showed a significantly higher abundance of both target and nontarget butterflies in manipulated sites than in control sites. It can be concluded that habitat restoration by topsoil removal can be successful for butterflies of especially wet heathland habitats, provided that source populations are at close range and care is taken that complete plant communities are restored. © 2008 Society for Ecological Restoration International.


Klink R.V.,University of Groningen | Rickert C.,University of Kiel | Vermeulen R.,Stichting WBBS Foundation WB Biological Station | Vorst O.,European Invertebrate Survey Netherlands | And 3 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Light to moderate grazing in grasslands can create vegetation mosaics of short grazed vegetation and tall ungrazed vegetation. These mosaics have been proposed to maximize plant and animal species richness, yet experimental evidence, especially regarding arthropods is scarce. This study compares abundance, richness and species composition of arthropods in grazed mosaics to those of homogeneous short and tall vegetation.We sampled arthropods on three German coastal salt marshes where grazing with three densities (high, moderate and none) was installed in 1989 on previously intensively grazed plots. Stable vegetation mosaics had developed under moderate stocking densities. We collected spiders, beetles, bugs and moth larvae by suction sampling in a stratified random sampling design.Treatments had caused large differences in plant composition after 20. years, which were reflected in the arthropod community. Most species showed a clear preference for either short or tall vegetation, but some species were most abundant in grazed mosaics. Arthropod richness and composition were similar in patches of short vegetation in moderately and highly stocked plots, while patches of tall vegetation were similar to ungrazed plots. Surprisingly, however, grazed mosaics were not richer in species than homogeneous tall vegetation, despite the co-occurrence of species from short, tall and mosaic vegetation.We conclude that, although arthropod richness of salt marshes is greatly enhanced when stocking density is decreased, this cannot substitute ungrazed marshes for conservation of arthropod diversity. However, long term cessation leads to the disappearance of several species, and therefore the possibilities of rotational grazing should be explored. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Cormont A.,Wageningen University | Jochem R.,Wageningen University | Malinowska A.,Wageningen University | Verboom J.,Wageningen University | And 3 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2012

The interaction between climate change and habitat fragmentation has been presented as a deadly anthropogenic cocktail. We cannot stop climate change, but it is within our circle of influence as ecologists to suggest landscape adaptation. Detailed population models that take into account climate change are considerably needed. We explore a detailed individual-based spatially explicit metapopulation model of a univoltine butterfly species where all processes are affected by daily weather, using historical daily weather data and future daily projections as input, in order to examine responses of a butterfly population in landscapes under various states of fragmentation and two climate change scenarios. This tool is used to investigate how landscapes could be adapted to compensate for possible negative impacts of climate change on population performance. We find that our model butterfly metapopulation was not only able to escape adverse conditions in summer by phenological shifts, but even to benefit from climatic warming. Varying either the amount of suitable habitat or patch size revealed a sharp threshold in population viability. In this particular case, however, the threshold was not affected by climate change and climate-dependent landscape adaptation was not required. The model presented here can be adapted for other species and applied to investigate scenarios for landscape adaptation. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


WallisDeVries M.F.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | WallisDeVries M.F.,Wageningen University | Baxter W.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | Baxter W.,Wageningen University | And 2 more authors.
Oecologia | Year: 2011

Although the effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly evident by the shifts in species ranges across taxonomical groups, the underlying mechanisms affecting individual species are still poorly understood. The power of climate envelopes to predict future ranges has been seriously questioned in recent studies. Amongst others, an improved understanding of the effects of current weather on population trends is required. We analysed the relation between butterfly abundance and the weather experienced during the life cycle for successive years using data collected within the framework of the Dutch Butterfly Monitoring Scheme for 40 species over a 15-year period and corresponding climate data. Both average and extreme temperature and precipitation events were identified, and multiple regression was applied to explain annual changes in population indices. Significant weather effects were obtained for 39 species, with the most frequent effects associated with temperature. However, positive density-dependence suggested climatic independent trends in at least 12 species. Validation of the short-term predictions revealed a good potential for climate-based predictions of population trends in 20 species. Nevertheless, data from the warm and dry year of 2003 indicate that negative effects of climatic extremes are generally underestimated for habitat specialists in drought-susceptible habitats, whereas generalists remain unaffected. Further climatic warming is expected to influence the trends of 13 species, leading to an improvement for nine species, but a continued decline in the majority of species. Expectations from climate envelope models overestimate the positive effects of climate change in northwestern Europe. Our results underline the challenge to include population trends in predicting range shifts in response to climate change. © 2011 The Author(s).


Cormont A.,Wageningen University | Malinowska A.H.,Wageningen University | Kostenko O.,Wageningen University | Radchuk V.,Wageningen University | And 4 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2011

Recent climate change is recognized as a main cause of shifts in geographical distributions of species. The impacts of climate change may be aggravated by habitat fragmentation, causing regional or large scale extinctions. However, we propose that climate change also may diminish the effects of fragmentation by enhancing flight behaviour and dispersal of ectothermic species like butterflies. We show that under weather conditions associated with anticipated climate change, behavioural components of dispersal of butterflies are enhanced, and colonization frequencies increase. In a field study, we recorded flight behaviour and mobility of four butterfly species: two habitat generalists (Coenonympha pamphilus; Maniola jurtina) and two specialists (Melitaea athalia; Plebejus argus), under different weather conditions. Flying bout duration generally increased with temperature and decreased with cloudiness. Proportion of time spent flying decreased with cloudiness. Net displacement generally increased with temperature. When butterflies fly longer, start flying more readily and fly over longer distances, we expect dispersal propensity to increase. Monitoring data showed that colonization frequencies moreover increased with temperature and radiation and decreased with cloudiness. Increased dispersal propensity at local scale might therefore lower the impact of habitat fragmentation on the distribution at a regional scale. Synergetic effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation on population dynamics and species distributions might therefore appear to be more complex than previously assumed. © 2010 The Author(s).


Wallisdevries M.F.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | Wallisdevries M.F.,Wageningen University | Van Swaay C.A.M.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | Plate C.L.,Statistics Netherlands CBS
Current Zoology | Year: 2012

Recent studies have documented declining trends of various groups of flower-visiting insects, even common butterfly species. Causes of these declines are still unclear but the loss of habitat quality across the wider countryside is thought to be a major factor. Nectar supply constitutes one of the main resources determining habitat quality. Yet, data on changes in nectar abundance are lacking. In this study, we provide the first analysis of changes in floral nectar abundance on a national scale and link these data to trends in butterfly species richness and abundance. We used transect data from the Dutch Butterfly Monitoring Scheme to compare two time periods: 1994-1995 and 2007-2008. The results show that butterfly decline can indeed be linked to a substantial decline in overall flower abundance and specific nectar plants, such as thistles. The decline is as severe in reported flower generalists as in flower specialists. We suggest that eutrophication is a main cause of the decline of nectar sources. © 2012 Current Zoology.


van Klink R.,University of Groningen | van der Plas F.,University of Groningen | van Noordwijk C.G.E.T.,Bargerveen Foundation | van Noordwijk C.G.E.T.,Radboud University Nijmegen | And 4 more authors.
Biological Reviews | Year: 2015

Both arthropods and large grazing herbivores are important components and drivers of biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, but a synthesis of how arthropod diversity is affected by large herbivores has been largely missing. To fill this gap, we conducted a literature search, which yielded 141 studies on this topic of which 24 simultaneously investigated plant and arthropod diversity. Using the data from these 24 studies, we compared the responses of plant and arthropod diversity to an increase in grazing intensity. This quantitative assessment showed no overall significant effect of increasing grazing intensity on plant diversity, while arthropod diversity was generally negatively affected. To understand these negative effects, we explored the mechanisms by which large herbivores affect arthropod communities: direct effects, changes in vegetation structure, changes in plant community composition, changes in soil conditions, and cascading effects within the arthropod interaction web. We identify three main factors determining the effects of large herbivores on arthropod diversity: (i) unintentional predation and increased disturbance, (ii) decreases in total resource abundance for arthropods (biomass) and (iii) changes in plant diversity, vegetation structure and abiotic conditions. In general, heterogeneity in vegetation structure and abiotic conditions increases at intermediate grazing intensity, but declines at both low and high grazing intensity. We conclude that large herbivores can only increase arthropod diversity if they cause an increase in (a)biotic heterogeneity, and then only if this increase is large enough to compensate for the loss of total resource abundance and the increased mortality rate. This is expected to occur only at low herbivore densities or with spatio-temporal variation in herbivore densities. As we demonstrate that arthropod diversity is often more negatively affected by grazing than plant diversity, we strongly recommend considering the specific requirements of arthropods when applying grazing management and to include arthropods in monitoring schemes. Conservation strategies aiming at maximizing heterogeneity, including regulation of herbivore densities (through human interventions or top-down control), maintenance of different types of management in close proximity and rotational grazing regimes, are the most promising options to conserve arthropod diversity. © 2014 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society.


Carvalheiro L.G.,University of Leeds | Carvalheiro L.G.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Kunin W.E.,University of Leeds | Keil P.,Yale University | And 23 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2013

Concern about biodiversity loss has led to increased public investment in conservation. Whereas there is a widespread perception that such initiatives have been unsuccessful, there are few quantitative tests of this perception. Here, we evaluate whether rates of biodiversity change have altered in recent decades in three European countries (Great Britain, Netherlands and Belgium) for plants and flower visiting insects. We compared four 20-year periods, comparing periods of rapid land-use intensification and natural habitat loss (1930-1990) with a period of increased conservation investment (post-1990). We found that extensive species richness loss and biotic homogenisation occurred before 1990, whereas these negative trends became substantially less accentuated during recent decades, being partially reversed for certain taxa (e.g. bees in Great Britain and Netherlands). These results highlight the potential to maintain or even restore current species assemblages (which despite past extinctions are still of great conservation value), at least in regions where large-scale land-use intensification and natural habitat loss has ceased. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and CNRS.


WallisDeVries M.F.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | WallisDeVries M.F.,Wageningen University
Basic and Applied Ecology | Year: 2014

Environmental changes due to land use developments, climate change and nitrogen deposition have profound influences on species assemblages. Investigating the dynamics in species composition as a function of underlying traits may increase our understanding of ecosystem functioning and provide a basis for effective conservation strategies. Here, I use a broad array of species traits for butterflies to identify four main components of associated traits. These reflect the spatial use of the landscape, abiotic vulnerability, developmental rate and phenology, and food specialisation, respectively. The first three trait components each contribute to determine Red List status, but only the developmental rate and phenology component is related to recent population trends. I argue that the latter component reflects the environmental impact of nutrient availability and microclimate, as affected by nitrogen deposition. This perspective sheds a new light on ongoing changes in community composition. Thus, a multidimensional view of trait associations allows us to move beyond the simplistic specialist-generalist dichotomy, renew our view on species-specific studies and help in setting new priorities for conservation. © 2014 Gesellschaft für Ökologie.


Radchuk V.,Catholic University of Louvain | WallisDeVries M.F.,De Vlinderstichting Dutch Butterfly Conservation | WallisDeVries M.F.,Wageningen University | Schtickzelle N.,Catholic University of Louvain
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: The conservation of species structured in metapopulations involves an important dilemma of resource allocation: should investments be directed at restoring/enlarging habitat patches or increasing connectivity. This is still an open question for Maculinea species despite they are among the best studied and emblematic butterfly species, because none of the population dynamics models developed so far included dispersal. Methodology/Principal Findings: We developed the first spatially and financially explicit Population Viability Analysis model for Maculinea alcon, using field data from The Netherlands. Implemented using the RAMAS/GIS platform, the model incorporated both local (contest density dependence, environmental and demographic stochasticities), and regional population dynamics (dispersal rates between habitat patches). We selected four habitat patch networks, contrasting in several basic features (number of habitat patches, their quality, connectivity, and occupancy rate) to test how these features are affecting the ability to enhance population viability of four basic management options, designed to incur the same costs: habitat enlargement, habitat quality improvement, creation of new stepping stone habitat patches, and reintroduction of captive-reared butterflies. The PVA model was validated by the close match between its predictions and independent field observations on the patch occupancy pattern. The four patch networks differed in their sensitivity to model parameters, as well as in the ranking of management options. Overall, the best cost-effective option was enlargement of existing habitat patches, followed by either habitat quality improvement or creation of stepping stones depending on the network features. Reintroduction was predicted to generally be inefficient, except in one specific patch network. Conclusions/Significance: Our results underline the importance of spatial and regional aspects (dispersal and connectivity) in determining the impact of conservation actions, even for a species previously considered as sedentary. They also illustrate that failure to account for the cost of management scenarios can lead to very different conclusions. © 2012 Radchuk et al.

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