Impact of management on foliage-dwelling arthropods and dynamics within permanent pastures

Rocío Rosa García, Mariecia Fraser

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The restoration of biodiversity within previously improved grasslands is an important objective worldwide. In some areas farmers receive remuneration for using specific strategies but the environmental responses to them are still uncertain. This study explored the short and long-term impacts of sheep grazing and/or hay cutting on arthropod foliage communities and flora within Welsh upland permanent pastures (UK). We measured arthropod abundance and diversity plus sward surface height, flower numbers and percentage of forbs and grasses. Data were collected during summer; twice before hay cutting and once shortly after. Total arthropod abundance was higher in grazed plots (due to Symphypleona flourishing) and family richness in hay cut plots, but taxa-specific responses occurred. Short-term effects reflected phenological changes (e.g. in Symphypleona or Cantharidae) and arthropod reductions after hay cut, when mostly Diptera remained. Arthropod communities were more abundant and diverse in flower-rich and forb-dominated plots managed by hay cutting and by hay cutting with aftermath grazing, although certain groups flourished in grazed only grass-dominated plots. The two managements based on a hay cut provided more heterogeneous environmental conditions than other management treatments, and these supported more diverse arthropod communities. The results make a valuable addition to the evidence base on which to base future land use policy at a time when trade-offs between agricultural production and nature conservation are under scrutiny across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11090
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019


  • Animals
  • Arthropods/physiology
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources/methods
  • Europe
  • Flowers/physiology
  • Grassland
  • Herbivory/physiology
  • Poaceae/physiology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Seasons
  • Sheep/physiology


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