Data from: Butterfly density and behaviour in uncut hay meadow strips: behavioral ecological consequences of an agri-environmental scheme
Lebeau, Julie; Wesselingh, Renate A.; Van Dyck, Hans (2016), Data from: Butterfly density and behaviour in uncut hay meadow strips: behavioral ecological consequences of an agri-environmental scheme, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tv380
Sparing zones from mowing has been proposed, and applied, to improve local conditions for survival and reproduction of insects in hay meadows. However, little is known about the efficiency of refuge zones and the consequences for local populations. We studied population densities of butterflies before and after mowing in the refuge zone of 15 meadows in 2009 and 2011. We also studied the behaviour of the meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) comparing nectar use, interactions and flights in the refuge zone before and after mowing. Densities of grassland butterflies in this zone doubled on average after mowing. The density of females of M. jurtina increased on average fourfold, while males showed a more modest increase. In line with the idea of increased scramble competition in the refuge zone after mowing, M. jurtina increased the time spent on nectar feeding, the preferred nectar source was visited more frequently, and females made more use of non-preferred nectar sources. Maniola jurtina did not interact more with conspecifics after mowing, but interactions lasted longer. Flight tracks did not change in linearity, but were faster and shorter after mowing. After mowing, only a part of the local grassland butterflies moved to the uncut refuge zone. The resulting concentration effect alters the time allocated to different activities, nectar use and movements. These aspects have been largely ignored for agri-environmental schemes and grassland management in nature reserves and raise questions about optimal quantities and quality of uncut refuge sites for efficient conservation of grassland arthropods in agricultural landscapes.