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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Butterfly distribution and abundance is affected by variation in the Swedish forest-farmland landscape

Berg, Åke; Ahrné, Karin; Öckinger, Erik; Svensson, Roger; Söderström, Bo


Remaining patches of semi-natural grasslands are hot spots for biodiversity in modern agricultural landscapes. In Sweden semi-natural pastures cover approximately 500,000 ha. However, power-line corridors, road verges and clear-cuts cover larger areas (in total about 2,000,000 ha), and these open, less intensively managed habitats are potentially important for species associated with taller vegetation and flower resources (e.g. pollinating insects). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relative importance of semi-natural pastures and the other three open habitats for butterflies in 12 forest-farmland mosaic landscapes in south central Sweden. Species composition differed significantly between habitats in multivariate analyses. Power-line corridors and semi-natural pastures harbored several species that were disproportionally abundant in these habitats (13 and 8 species, respectively), and power-line corridors also harbored several species that were classified as typical in indicator species analyses. There were more butterfly species, higher abundances and a tendency for more individuals of red-listed species in power-line corridors than in the other three habitats. Effects of the surrounding landscape composition seemed to be weaker than that of the local habitat. However, species composition was significantly associated with landscape composition and species with intermediate and low mobility were more abundant in forested landscapes than in landscapes dominated by arable fields. Analyses of flying time and host plants for larvae suggest that early flying species and species associated with dwarf shrubs were more common in power-line corridors than in the other habitats. A landscape perspective, which takes several habitats into account, is needed for conservation of butterfly communities in forest-farmland landscapes. Power-line corridors and road verges offer possibilities for creating habitats that are suitable for pollinating insects through conservation-oriented management. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Semi-natural pasture; Power-line corridor; Forest road verge; Clear-cut; Rhopalocera; Zygaenidae; Species richness; Density; Landscape composition

Published in

Biological Conservation
2011, Volume: 144, number: 12, pages: 2819-2831

    SLU Authors

    • Berg, Åke

      • Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
          • Svensson, Roger

            • Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
          • UKÄ Subject classification

            Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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