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Landscape scale conservation of butterflies in subalpine hay meadows by Romanian smallholders Sally Huband and Davy McCracken ‘Mountain.

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Presentation on theme: "Landscape scale conservation of butterflies in subalpine hay meadows by Romanian smallholders Sally Huband and Davy McCracken ‘Mountain."— Presentation transcript:

1 Landscape scale conservation of butterflies in subalpine hay meadows by Romanian smallholders Sally Huband and Davy McCracken ‘Mountain hay meadows – hotspots of biodiversity and traditional culture’ 7-9 June, Lunca de Jos ‘

2 Background Clear that smallholding based production in the village is of high nature value but why exactly? Interdisciplinary approach taken to relate ecological findings to smallholders’ management practices… …and to contextualise these findings within a broader understanding of the functioning of the production system

3 Research location: Moeciu de Sus

4 Research approach Butterfly transects –Establish species occurring in the meadow landscape –Correlate number of species with meadow management intensity – Explore spatial and temporal occurrence of species in relation to meadow management (multivariate statistical analysis) Interviews and participant observation –Derive meadow management intensity scores for transect meadows –Understand the organisation and characteristics of smallholding production… –…and wider functioning of the production system including the ‘communal’ grazing element

5 Findings (1/3): Butterfly species 46 species (4237 individuals) recorded on 8 transects over two summers 37 of which breeding in the meadows 10 species assoc. with calcareous grasslands –(Lycaena phlaeas, Cupido minimus, Maculinea rebeli, Maculinea arion, Plebicula dorylas, Polyommatus icarus, Melanargia galathea, Coenonympha pamphilus, Erynnis tages, Hesperia comma) 3 Romanian red listed species –(Erynnis tages, Lycaena alciphron and Maculinea rebeli)

6 Findings (2/3): management intensity Management intensity scores indicate low-intensity dunging, grazing and cropping and variation between meadows Spearman’s rank correlation: management intensity scores with autochthonous species –2005 data: rs = , p<0.001 –2006 data: rs = , p<0.001 –significant but less so for highly mobile species

7 Findings (3/3): spatial and temporal patterns June - prior to cutting (July and August) edaphic factors influence spatial pattern of butterflies e.g. Cupido minimus July – cutting begins to determine spatial distribution (only Maniola jurtina recorded in mown meadows) August - late cut and uncut meadows with more natural patches of grasslands important for later flyers e.g. Melanargia galathea Importance of spatial and temporal variation in the management of a large number of small meadows

8 between Variations in management between meadows leads to vegetation mosaics Globeflower (Trollius europaeus) Mountain arnica (Arnica montana) Household with low labour capacity, little or no dunging, lower fertility Household with high labour capacity, high dunging, higher fertility

9 within Variations in management within meadows adds to these vegetation mosaics Furthest area from barn, less dung, mown once, dense cover of kidney vetch, small blue present Close to barn, more dung, mown twice, no kidney vetch, small blue absent (but other species tolerant of higher fertility and earlier mowing present)

10 Hundreds of small parcels managed in subtly different ways but all at a low-intensity Variations in management combine with variations in the natural environment = vegetation mosaics supporting differing ecological requirements of a range of species Importance of professional shepherds and commons Importance of older generation Necessity and cultural norms key factors Landscape scale conservation of meadows by smallholders in Moeciu de Sus: key factors

11 Acknowledgements Smallholders and shepherds of Moeciu de Sus Natalie and Mihai Orleanu, Centre for Mountain Ecology Supervisors: Davy McCracken, Lorna Cole, Bob Rees and Neil Thin Scottish Agricultural College and the University of Edinburgh ESRC/NERC Interdisciplinary Studentship EFNCP and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute


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