The rural territories linked to European sheep systems still cover wide areas and provide multiple ecosystems services although the current situation of the associated biodiversity is not fully understood. In this study the foliage arthropods (including pollinators), the vegetation cover and height, the number of flowers and plant species richness were evaluated in 9 sheep grazed lands from 5 EU countries with different livestock management strategies and dominant vegetation. The total abundance of arthropods, the abundance of Diptera and Heteroptera, sward height and plant species richness were higher in more extensive than in more intensively managed farms. The total abundance and the abundance of most of the orders were highest in mountain areas (MP) and lowest in improved pastures (IMP) whereas the total arthropod richness showed no differences and the richness of pollinators was lower in IMP than in MP (p < 0.01) and semi-natural pastures (SN, p < 0.01). The grass cover was higher in IMP than in the rest of the areas whereas forb cover was higher in SN than in IMP (p < 0.01). The plant species richness peaked in MP whereas the number of flowers showed no significant differences. Sward height correlated positively with forb cover, plant species richness, the richness of the whole arthropod community, the abundance of several orders like Araneae, Diptera or Homoptera, as well as with the richness of the pollinator community. The community composition of the total arthropod fauna (p < 0.01) and the pollinators in particular (p < 0.05) differed between management strategies and more diverse groups were linked to the areas under more extensive management. Both communities (total and pollinators) also differed in composition between the types of vegetation (p < 0.01) and less diverse assemblages with low abundant taxa were associated to IMP and SN whereas more diverse groups were linked to MP and grassland-forest (WP) in both cases. A better understanding of the flora-fauna dynamics in sheep grazed pasturelands is essential for the proper conservation of the biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as for the maintenance of sustainable sheep systems relying on the natural resources.

Arthropod biodiversity associated to European sheep production systems

Peric T.;
2021

Abstract

The rural territories linked to European sheep systems still cover wide areas and provide multiple ecosystems services although the current situation of the associated biodiversity is not fully understood. In this study the foliage arthropods (including pollinators), the vegetation cover and height, the number of flowers and plant species richness were evaluated in 9 sheep grazed lands from 5 EU countries with different livestock management strategies and dominant vegetation. The total abundance of arthropods, the abundance of Diptera and Heteroptera, sward height and plant species richness were higher in more extensive than in more intensively managed farms. The total abundance and the abundance of most of the orders were highest in mountain areas (MP) and lowest in improved pastures (IMP) whereas the total arthropod richness showed no differences and the richness of pollinators was lower in IMP than in MP (p < 0.01) and semi-natural pastures (SN, p < 0.01). The grass cover was higher in IMP than in the rest of the areas whereas forb cover was higher in SN than in IMP (p < 0.01). The plant species richness peaked in MP whereas the number of flowers showed no significant differences. Sward height correlated positively with forb cover, plant species richness, the richness of the whole arthropod community, the abundance of several orders like Araneae, Diptera or Homoptera, as well as with the richness of the pollinator community. The community composition of the total arthropod fauna (p < 0.01) and the pollinators in particular (p < 0.05) differed between management strategies and more diverse groups were linked to the areas under more extensive management. Both communities (total and pollinators) also differed in composition between the types of vegetation (p < 0.01) and less diverse assemblages with low abundant taxa were associated to IMP and SN whereas more diverse groups were linked to MP and grassland-forest (WP) in both cases. A better understanding of the flora-fauna dynamics in sheep grazed pasturelands is essential for the proper conservation of the biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as for the maintenance of sustainable sheep systems relying on the natural resources.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/1218860
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