Publication details

Differences in arthropod communities between grazed areas and grazing exclosures depend on arthropod groups and vegetation types



Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Abundance; Grassland; Ground beetle; Species richness; Species trait; Spider; True hopper
Description Livestock grazing is one of the most common management practices for grasslands and can greatly affect their biodiversity. However, arthropod diversity response patterns to grazing regimes are difficult to predict. We conducted a short-term grazing exclusion experiment in traditionally managed alkali grasslands in Hungary to investigate differences between grazed and ungrazed vegetation for different arthropod groups. The experiment was laid out in a full factorial design, with twelve 50 × 100 m short-term grazing exclosures in vegetation types with high (alkali wet meadow) and low productivity (alkali steppe). We sampled ground beetles and spiders with pitfall traps and true hoppers by sweep netting. We used vegetation type (wet meadow vs dry steppe), management (grazed vs ungrazed) and their interaction as fixed effects in mixed models. We found higher species richness and activity density of spiders and ground beetles in the more productive wet meadow vegetation, where the community structure of each arthropod group also shifted toward hygrophilous species. Significant interactions between vegetation type and management indicated a dependence of management effects on vegetation types: arthropod community structure shifted towards hygrophilous species in ungrazed meadows, but not in ungrazed steppe sites. True hopper abundance was higher in grazed meadow sites, but lower in grazed steppe sites, compared to ungrazed sites. True hopper community structure shifted toward generalist herbivores in ungrazed sites, regardless of vegetation type. We concluded that vegetation types determine arthropod communities and modulate the effects of grazing on arthropods. Our results suggest that moderate disturbance from low-intensity grazing has a positive or neutral effect in wetter, more productive vegetation, but a negative or neutral effect in drier, less productive vegetation, depending on the arthropod group. Herbivorous insects that dwell on plants are particularly affected by management because they are more susceptible to direct impacts, such as unintentional predation by grazing cattle, and because of asymmetrical competition between mammalian and insect herbivores.

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