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Similar effects of different mowing frequencies on the conservation value of semi-natural grasslands in Europe
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Theoretical Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Univ Debrecen, Hungary.
Univ Regensburg, Germany.
MTA DE Biodivers and Ecosyst Serv Res Grp, Hungary.
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2018 (English)In: Biodiversity and Conservation, ISSN 0960-3115, E-ISSN 1572-9710, Vol. 27, no 10, p. 2451-2475Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Both agricultural intensification and abandonment have led to the loss of European semi-natural grasslands. Nature conservation management measures like mowing are essential for preserving the biodiversity of remaining grasslands. However, there are no conclusive results from studies examining effects of different mowing frequencies across Europe. To fill this gap, we evaluated data from European studies comparing mowing frequencies to determine which are the most beneficial from a nature conservation viewpoint. We searched literature for short- and long-term studies comparing the effects of different mowing frequencies on outcome measures relevant for biodiversity conservation. We found 29 relevant studies where mowing once per year was compared to higher or lower mowing frequencies. The studies covered various grassland types and organisms. The effects were analysed using response ratios, where mowing once per year, i.e. the traditional mowing frequency in semi-natural grasslands, was compared to mowing every fifth, third or second year and mowing two, three or four times a year. Overall, we found similar effects of the different mowing frequencies on the biodiversity of flora and fauna. More frequent mowing generally had a more positive effect, but differences between frequencies were small. Effects were habitat-specific, differing between site and study conditions. For example, a higher mowing frequency was more beneficial in more productive grasslands. These results suggest that in most European semi-natural grasslands, mowing less frequently is a way of using the limited funds available for management more efficiently while still maintaining grassland conservation values, but e.g. site productivity must be considered when determining a suitable mowing frequency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER , 2018. Vol. 27, no 10, p. 2451-2475
Keywords [en]
Biomass removal; Cutting; Management intensity; Meadow; Meta-analysis; Species diversity
National Category
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-149680DOI: 10.1007/s10531-018-1562-6ISI: 000436794700001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-149680DiVA, id: diva2:1235314
Available from: 2018-07-25 Created: 2018-07-25 Last updated: 2018-08-14

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