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Effects of grassland abandonment, restoration and management on butterflies and vascular plants

  • Erik Öckinger
  • Anna K Eriksson
  • Henrik Smith
Publishing year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 291-300
Publication/Series: Biological Conservation
Volume: 133
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

When semi-natural pastures are abandoned, specialized grassland species are lost as a consequence of succession. As a counter-measure, previously abandoned grasslands may be restored by clearing shrubs and trees and re-introducing grazing livestock. In order to examine the effects of this type of habitat restoration, we compared species richness of plants and of specialized plants thought to be dependent on continuous management and species richness and abundance of butterflies and red-listed butterflies in 12 sets of matched continuously managed, abandoned and restored grassland in southern Sweden. We found no differences in species richness or abundance between the three grassland types. There were, however, some negative effects of abandonment. The number of management-dependent plants decreased with increasing cover of trees and shrubs, and in restored sites species richness of all groups decreased with increasing cover of trees and shrubs before restoration. Also the present management significantly affected both butterflies and plants. Species richness of both groups increased with increasing vegetation height and differed between sites depending on the species of grazers, with negative effects of sheep compared to cattle or horses. Our study indicates that for grassland management to be efficient, the restoration actions should mainly be directed towards sites where the post-abandonment succession has not proceeded too far.


  • Ecology
  • Habitat restoration
  • Lepidoptera
  • Grazing
  • Semi-natural pastures
  • Species richness
  • Succession


  • ISSN: 1873-2917
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden