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Evaluating the relative importance of site and landscape characteristics on the effectiveness of restoring species-rich grassland communities through agri-environment schemes - LM0450

There is good information available about how to create the structure of grassland and its desired floristic composition, i.e. the long term establishment of different swards in relation to establishment method and subsequent management and timescales involved. However, we know much less about the wider ecological communities, particularly invertebrates, that form within such grasslands and which factors are most important in promoting diverse communities. It is important to understand the factors that promote establishment of resilient invertebrate populations in order to secure the provision of a range of ecosystem services provided by invertebrate communities in grassland.

This project will address this gap in our knowledge by studying grassland created under previous agri-environment schemes. It will evaluate the invertebrate communities that have formed in calcareous grassland areas restored since 1987. These data will be used to determine the relative importance of site size, spatial configuration and characteristics of the surrounding landscape on the invertebrate assemblages compared to factors that are already known to be important, such as establishment technique and site management.

Grasslands are an important but highly threatened and degraded habitat. They therefore remain a high priority for habitat creation and restoration. A restoration target of 25,000ha of different types of grasslands has been set under outcome 1B of the Biodiversity 2020 conservation strategy. Grassland management, restoration and creation will thus continue to be a high priority under the new environmental land management scheme, due to replace Environmental Stewardship in 2015.
The project will address the following objectives:

•By surveying grassland sites restored through past agri-environment schemes, to evaluate the importance of different spatial attributes – the size and spatial configuration of sites, and characteristics of the surrounding landscape – on the ecological communities (specifically invertebrate communities) that occur in grassland areas created through agri-environment schemes.
•In particular, to assess the importance for invertebrate community structure of site and landscape factors relative to factors that are known to have an effect such as site age, establishment/management techniques and vegetation structure.
•To consider how future agri-environment scheme grassland creation interventions should be prioritised at site, holding and landscape scales, and what management techniques are most relevant to maximise the contribution of these sites to ecological networks for invertebrates.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : LM0450 Final report   (2637k)
• TPS - Two Page Summary : LM0450 GREEN 2pg sum FINAL   (291k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2015

Cost: £119,947
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Centre For Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)