What is it about?

Changes in agricultural practices can impact the agricultural environment. It is important to know how these changes in agricultural management can affect the environment, in order to do this, we can monitor butterflies because their diversity and abundance is linked to the changes in their environment. This study compares the sampling effort necessary to detect differences in butterflies across three different European regions, Sweden, Romania and Spain. Our study demonstrated the feasibility of an environmental monitoring programe in arable land using farmland butterflies across Europe

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Why is it important?

Land erosion, pollution, climate change and a growing human population means that the pressures on the available agricultural land are very high. Humanity depends on the long term sustainability of agricultural land and for this reason it is very important to understand how management of agricultural land can affect the health of the agricultural system. In this study we wanted to know how many monitoring sites would be needed in order to detect changes in the butterfly populations in farmland and how this required sampling effort would change in different regions. In these study we focus on butterflies because a) butterflies have been found to reliably reflect changes in agricultural environments; b) butterflies contribute to pollination of plants and are an important part of farmland environments; c) butterflies are very attractive to people in general so in the EU there exist many citizen science monitoring schemes that focus on butterflies.

Perspectives

Agricultural land is one of the most essential assets that humanity has if we want to insure our survival, therefore it is paramount to understand the effects that management has on the agricultural environments, for our own benefit as well as for biodiversity conservation. We need to find reliable, cost-effective methods to monitor the effects of changes in the agricultural systems so that we can take the most appropriate decisions. In this regard, there are already a high number of established butterfly monitoring schemes across Europe, it would be feasible to find synergies across these schemes in order to implement a community-wide monitoring scheme to generate the information necessary for informed decision-making.

Ms Marina S Lee
Universitat de Lleida

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This page is a summary of: Monitoring environmental effects on farmland Lepidoptera: Does necessary sampling effort vary between different bio-geographic regions in Europe?, Ecological Indicators, July 2019, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.03.035.
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