Butterfly Biodiversity Increases with Prairie Strips and Conservation Management in Row Crop Agriculture

Submitted by barogers on Wed, 08/16/2023 - 14:22

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Insect Conservation and Diversity (2023)




conservation, edge-of-field, hedgerows, monarch butterfly, plants, restoration, US Midwest


<p>1. Butterfly abundances are declining globally, with meta-analysis showing a rate of -2% per year. Agriculture contributes to butterfly decline through habitat loss anddegradation. Prairie strips—strips of farmland actively restored to native perennialvegetation—are a conservation practice with the potential to mitigate biodiversityloss, but their impact on butterfly biodiversity is not known.</p>

<p>2. Working within a 30-year-old experiment thatvaried land use intensity, from natural areasto croplands (maize–soy–wheat rotation), we introduced prairie strips to less intenselymanaged crop treatments. Treatments included conservation land, biologically based(organic) row crops with prairie strips, reducedinput row crops with prairie strips, no-tillrow crops and conventional row crops. We measured butterfly abundance and richness:(1) within prairie strips and (2) across the gradient of land use intensity at the plot level.</p>

<p>3. Butterfly abundance was higher within prairie strips than in all other treatments.Across the land use intensity gradient at the plot level, the conservation land treat-ment had the highest abundance, treatments with prairie strips had intermediatelevels and no-till and conventional treatments had the lowest abundances. Also across entire plots, butterfly richness increased as land use intensity decreased.Treatments with prairie strips, which also had reduced land use intensity, had dis-tinct butterfly communities as they harboured several butterfly species that werenot found in other row crop treatments.</p>

<p>4. In addition to the known effects of prairie strips on ecosystem services includingerosion control and increased water quality, prairie strips can increase biodiversityin multifunctional landscapes.</p>