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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2013

Authors: Borschig, C; Klein, AM; von Wehrden, H; Krauss, J

Title: Traits of butterfly communities change from specialist to generalist characteristics with increasing land-use intensity.

Source: Basic Appl Ecol (14), 7 547-554.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

von Wehrden Henrik

Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Land-use intensification leads to species loss and shifts in community composition, but only few studies examine how these dynamics affect ecological and life-history traits. We thus investigated whether ecological and life-history traits differ between butterfly communities of grasslands with different land-use intensity. We conducted butterfly transect surveys in 137 grassland sites in three regions of Germany and compiled 10 species-specific ecological and life-history traits from the literature. These traits are associated with food plant specialisation, dispersal, distribution, reproduction and development. We calculated a land-use intensity gradient based on the amount of fertilise mowing frequency and grazing intensity. We analysed differences of traits characteristics between butterfly communities along the land-use intensity gradient in a fourth-corner analysis, thus considering correlations between traits. Six ecological and life-history traits changed from characteristics associated with specialists to such associated with generalists with increasing land-use intensity. These traits characteristics in intensified grasslands were: high dispersal propensity, large distribution range, low population density, more than one generation per year, hibernation in a more advanced developmental stage and a long flight period. The functional homogenisation of the butterfly communities with changes from specialist to generalist trait characteristics with increasing land-use intensity may have severe consequences for ecosystem functioning and services.

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