Differential response of communities of plants, snails, ants and spiders to long-term mowing in a small-scale experiment

Abstract

We examined the response of communities of four groups of organisms (plants, snails, ants and spiders) in a small scale mosaic of 8-years mown and unmown plots in a wet meadow in Central Europe. The experimental setup consisted of 7 unmown and 8 regularly mown 4 m2 plots in checkerboard arrangement. Eight years after the start of the experiment, the plant community structure diverged in response to mowing/nonmowing, both in species composition and structure. Both bryophyte and vascular plant species numbers were significantly higher in the mown plots. In unmown plots, bryophytes nearly disappeared and plots were dominated by the tall tussock grass Molinia caerulea. Both diversity and abundance of snails were higher in unmown plots than in mown ones. Ant nests were more abundant in mown plots and species composition differed between mown and unmown plots. We captured significantly more individuals of spiders in mown plots but we did not find any difference in species composition. We conclude that the 8-years duration of different management of 4 m2 plots was sufficient to establish different communities in low movable organisms, whereas these plots are probably too small to host different assemblages of organisms with good active dispersal abilities.

Abbreviations

RDA:

Redundancy Analysis

PCA:

Principal component analysis

References

  1. Aubry, S., C. Labaune, F. Magnin, P. Roche and L. Kiss. 2006. Active and passive dispersal of an invading land snail in Mediterranean France. J. Anim. Ecol. 75: 802–813.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Ausden, M., M. Hall, P. Pearson and T. Strudwick. 2005. The effects of cattle grazing on tall herb fen vegetation and molluscs. Biol. Cons. 122: 317–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baker, G.H. 1988. Dispersal of Theba pisana (Mollusca: Helicidae). J. Appl. Ecol. 25: 889–900.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Báldi, A., P. Batáry and D. Klejn. 2013. Effects of grazing and bio-geographic regions on grassland biodiversity in Hungary — analysing assemblages of 1200 species. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 2013: 28–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Balmer, O. and A. Erhardt. 2000. Increased butterfy diversity after 10-year succession on extensively grazed calcareous grasslands in the Jura mountains of north-west Switzerland. Mitt. Dtsch. Ges. Allg. Agnew. Ent. 12: 259–262.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Boschi, C. and B. Baur. 2007. Effects of management intensity on land snails in Swiss nutrient-poor pastures. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 120: 243–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brandao, C.R.F., R.R. Silva and R.M. Feitosa. 2011. Cerrado ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as indicators of edge effects. Zoologia 28: 379–387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Braschler B. and B. Baur. 2003. Effects of experimental small-scale grassland fragmentation on spatial distribution, density and persistence of ant nests. Ecol. Entomol. 28: 651–658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cattin, M.-F., G. Blandenier, C. Banašek-Richter and L.-F. Bersier. 2003. The impact of mowing as a management strategy for wet meadows on spiders (Araneae) communities. Biol. Conserv. 113: 179–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cizek, O., J. Zamecnik, R. Tropek, P. Kocarek and M. Konvicka. 2012. Diversification of mowing regime increases arthropods diversity in species-poor cultural hay meadows. J. Ins. Conserv. 16: 215–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cremene, C., G. Groza, L. Rakosy, A.A. Schileyko, A. Baur, A. Erhard and B. Baur. 2005. Alterations of steppe-like grasslands in Eastern Europe: a threat to regional biodiversity hotspots. Conserv. Biol. 19: 1606–1618.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. De Koninck, W., H. De Koninck, J.Y. Baugnee and J. P. Maelfait. 2007. Ant biodiversity conservation in Belgian calcareous grasslands: active management is vital. Belgian J. Zool. 137: 137–146.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Diamond, S.E., D.M. Sorger, J. Hulcr, S.L. Pelini, I. Del Toro, C. Hirsch, E. Oberg and R.R. Dunn. 2012. Who likes it hot? A global analysis of the climatic, ecological, and evolutionary determinants of warming tolerance in ants. Global Change Biol. 18: 448–456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Doležal, J., Z. Mašková, J. Lepš, D. Steinbachová, F. de Bello, J. Klimešová, O. Tackenberg, F. Zemek and J. Květ. 2011. Positive long-term effect of mulching on species and functional trait diversity in a nutrient-poor mountain meadow in Central Europe. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ 145: 10–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dover, J.W., A. Rescia, S. Fungarino, J. Fairburn, P. Carey, P. Lunt, R.L.H. Dennis and C.J. Dover. 2010. Can hay harvesting detrimentally affect adult butterfly abundance? J. Ins. Conserv. 14: 413–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Duffey, E., 1998. Aerial dispersion in spiders. Proccedings of the 17th European Colloquium, Edinburgh, 1997. pp. 187–191.

  17. Ellison, A.M. 2012. Out of Oz: opportunities and challenges for using ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as biological indicators in north-temperate cold biomes. Myrmecol. News 17: 105–119.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Elmes, G.W. and J.C. Wardlaw. 1982. A population study of the ants Myrmica sabuleti and Myrmica scabrinodis living at two sites in the South of England. II. Effect of above-nest vegetation. J. Anim. Ecol. 51: 665–680.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Elmes, G.W. and J.C. Wardlaw. 1983. A comparison of the effect of temperature on the development of large hibernated larvae of four species of Myrmica (Hym. Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 30: 106–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Elmes, G.W., J.A. Thomas, J.C. Wardlaw, M. Hochberg, R.T. Clarke and D.J. Simcox. 1998. The ecology of Myrmica ants in relation to the conservation of Maculinea butterfies. J. Ins. Conserv. 2: 67–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Englisch, T., F.M. Steiner and B.C. Schlick-Steiner. 2005. Fine-scale grassland assemblage in Central Europe: ants tell another story than plants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae; Spermatophyta). Myrm. Nachr. 7: 61–67.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fenner, M., 2000. Seeds. The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant Communities. 2nd ed. CABI, Wallingford.

  23. Fenner, M. and A. Palmer. 1998. Grassland management to promote diversity: creation of a patchy sward by mowing and fertiliser regimes. Field Stud. 9: 313–324.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Fiedler, K. 2001. Ants that associate with Lycaenidae butterfly larvae: diversity, ecology and biogeography. Diversity and Distributions 7: 45–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gallé, L. 1975. Factors stabilizing the ant populations (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the grass association in the Tisca basin. Tiscia 10: 61–66.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Gallé, L. 1991. Structure and succession of ant assemblages in a north European sand dune area. Holarctic Ecol. 14: 31–37.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Gallé, L., L. Körmöczi and J. Kerekes. 1998. Structure of ant assemblages in a Middle-European successional sand-dune area. Tiscia 31: 19–28.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Gathmann A., H.J. Greiler and T. Tscharntke. 1994. Trap-nesting bees and wasp colonizing set-aside felds — succession and body-size, management by cutting and sowing. Oecologia 98: 8–14.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Gerard, M., M. El Kahloun, J. Rymen, O. Beauchard and P. Meire. 2008. Importance of mowing and food frequency in promoting species richness in restored floodplains. J. Appl. Ecol. 45: 1780– 1789.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Gittenberger, E., D.S.J. Groenenberg, B. Kokshoom and R.C. Preece. 2006. Molecular traits from hitch-hiking snails. Nature 439: 409.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. Gomez, C. and S. Abril. 2012. Nuptial fights of the seed-harvester ant Messor barbarus (Linnaeus, 1767) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Iberian Peninsula: synchrony, spatial scale and weather conditions. Myrmecol. News 16: 25–29.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Goodisman, M.A.D., DeHeer, C.J. and K.G. Ross. 2000. Unusual behavior of polygyne fire ant queens on nuptial flights. J. Ins. Behav. 13: 455–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Grandchamp, A.C., A. Bergamini, S. Stofer, J. Niemela, P. Duelli and C. Scheidegger. 2005. The infuence of grassland management on ground beetles (Carabidae, Coleoptera) in Swiss montane meadows. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 110: 307–317.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Grill, A., D.F.R. Cleary, C. Stettmer, M. Bräu and J. Settele. 2008, A mowing experiment to evaluate the influence of management on the activity of host ants of Maculinea butterflies. J. Ins. Conserv. 12: 617–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Grimm, B. and W. Paill. 2001. Spatial distribution and home-range of the pest slug Arion lusitanicus (Mollusca: Pulmonata). Acta Oecol. 22: 219–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hölldobler, B. and E.O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Springer, Berlin.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  37. Horsák, M., L. Juřičková, J. Picka. 2013. Měkkýši České a Slovenské republiky. Molluscs of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Ka-bourek, Zlín.

  38. Humbert, J.Y., J. Ghazoul and T. Walter. 2009. Meadow harvesting techniques and their impacts on feld fauna. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 130: 1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Humbert, J.Y., J. Ghazoul, G.J. Sauter and T. Walter. 2010. Impact of different meadow mowing techniques on feld invertebrates. J. Appl. Entomol. 134: 592–599.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Humbert, J.-Y., J. Pellet, P. Buri and R. Arlettaz. 2012. Does delaying the frst mowing date benefit biodivesity in meadow? Environmental Evidence 1: 9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Hurlbert, S.H., 1971. The nonconcept of species diversity: a critique and alternative parameters. Ecology 52: 577–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Huusela-Veistola, E. and A. Vasarainen. 2000. Plant succession in perennial grass strips and effects on the diversity of leafhoppers (Homoptera, Auchenorrhyncha). Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 80: 101– 112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Hyvonen, T. and E. Huusela-Veistola. 2011. Impact of seed mixture and mowing on food abundance for farmland birds in set-asides. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 143: 20–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Kawakami, K., Wada, S. and S. Chiba. 2008. Possible dispersal of land snails by birds. Ornithol. Sci. 7: 167–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Konvicka, M., J. Benes, O. Cizek, F. Kopecek, O. Konvicka and L. Vitaz. 2008. How too much care kills species: Grassland reserves, agri-environmental schemes and extinction of Colias myrmidone (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) from its former stronghold. J. Ins. Conserv. 12: 519–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Kubát, K., L. Hrouda, J. Chrtek, Z. Kaplan, J. Kirschner and J. Štěpánek (eds), 2002. Klíč ke květeně České republiky. Academia, Praha.

  47. Kučera, J., J. Váňa and Z. Hradílek. 2012. Bryophyte flora of the Czech Republic: updated checklist and Red List and a brief analysis. Preslia 84: 813–850.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Kuussaari, M., T. Hyvonen and O. Harma. 2011. Pollinator insects benefit from rotational fallows. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 143: 28– 36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Kuźnik-Kovalska, E. and A. Roksela. 2009. Life cycle of Perforatella bidentata (Gmelin, 1791) (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Helicidae). Folia Malacol. 17: 199–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Labaune, C. and F. Magnin. 2002. Pastoral management vs. abandonment in Mediterranean uplands: impact on land snail communities. Global Ecol. Biogeogr. 11: 237–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Lenoir, L. 2009. Ant species composition and richness in different types of semi-natural grasslands. Russ. J. Ecol. 40: 471–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Lenoir, L. and T. Lenartsson. 2010. Effect of timing of grazing on arthropod communities in semi-natural grasslands. J. Insect Sci. 10:60.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  53. Lepš, J. 1999. Nutrient status disturbance and competition: an experimental test of relationships in a wet meadow. J. Veg. Sci. 10: 219–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Lepš, J. 2004. Variability in population and community biomass in a grassland community affected by environmental productivity and diversity. Oikos 107: 64–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Lepš, J. 2014. Scale-and time-dependent effects of fertilization, mowing and dominant removal on a grassland community during a 15-year experiment. J. Appl. Ecol. 51: 978–987.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Ložek, V. 1956. Klíč československých měkkýšů. Vydav. Slov. akad. vied SAV, Bratislava.

  57. Macek, P. and J. Lepš. 2003. The effect of environmental heterogeneity on clonal behaviour of Prunella vulgaris L. Plant Ecol. 168: 31–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Malumbres-Olarte J., C.J. Vink, J.G. Ross, R.H. Cruickhank and M. Paterson. 2012. The role of habitat complexity on spider communities in native alpine grasslands of New Zealand. Insect Conserv. Diver. 6: 124–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Marini, L., P. Fontana, A. Battisti and K. J. Gaston. 2009. Agricultural management, vegetation traits and landscape drive orthopteran and butterfly diversity in a grassland-forest mosaic: a multi-scale approach. Insect Conserv. Diver. 2: 213–220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Martin, K. and M. Sommer. 2004. Effect of soil properties and land management on the structure of grassland snail assemblages in SW Germany. Pedobiologia 48: 193–203.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Noordijk, J., A. P. Schaffers, T. Heijerman, P. Boer, M. Gleichman and K. V. Sykora. 2010. Effects of vegetation management by mowing on ground-dwelling arthropods. Ecol. Eng. 36: 740–750.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Peck, S.L., B. McQuaid and C.L. Campbell. 1998. Using ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as a biological indicator of agroeco-system condition. Environ. Entomol. 27: 1102–1110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Platnick, N.I. 2013. The world spider catalog, version 14.0. American Museum of Natural History, online at https://doi.org/research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/index.html DOI: 10.5531/db.iz. 0001.

  64. Popov, V.N. and S. Kramarenko. 2004. Dispersal of land snails of the genus Xeropicta Monterosato, 1892 (Gastropoda; Pulmonata; Hygromiidae). Russ. J. Ecol. 35: 263–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Rees, W.J., 1965. The aerial dispersal of Mollusca. Proc. Malacol. Soc. Lond. 36: 269–282.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Russel, F. 2010. The short-term impacts of burning and mowing on prairie ant communities of the Oak Openings Region. MSc. Thesis. https://doi.org/etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi/Friedrich%20 Russell%20L.pdf?toledo1271382165 retrieved on 20 May 2012.

  67. Scanga, S.E. and D.J. Leopold. 2012. Managing wetland plant populations: Lessons learned in Europe may apply to North American fens. Biol. Conserv. 148: 69–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Scohier A. and B. Dumont. 2012. How do sheep affect plant communities and arthropod populations in temperate grasslands? Animal 6: 1129–1138.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  69. Schwab, A., Dubois, D., Fried, P.M., Edwards, P.J., 2002. Estimating the biodiversity of hay meadow in north-eastern Schwitzerland on the basis of vegetation structure. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 93: 197–209.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Seifert, B. 2007. Die Ameisen Mittel- und Nordeuropas. Lutra Verlags- und Vertriebsgesellschaft, Tauer.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Šmilauer, P. and J. Lepš. 2014. Multivariate analysis of ecological data using CANOCO 5. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  72. Steffan-Dewenter, I. and K. Leschke. 2003. Effects of habitat management on vegetation and above-ground nesting bees and wasps of orchard meadows in Central Europe. Biodivers. Conserv. 12: 1953–1968.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. ter Braak, C.J.F. and P. Šmilauer. 2012. Canoco Reference Manual and User’s Guide: Software for Ordination (version 5.0). Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, NY, USA.

  74. Valkó, O., P. Török, G. Matus and B. Tóthmérész. 2012. Is regular mowing the most appropriate and cost-effective management maintaining diversity and biomass of target forbs in mountain hay meadows? Flora 207: 303– 309.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Vítová, A. and J. Lepš. 2011. Experimental assessment of dispersal and habitat limitation in a oligotrophic meadow. Plant Ecol. 212: 1231–1242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Weiner, C.N., M. Werner, K.E. Linsenmair and N. Bluthgen. 2011. Land use intensity in grasslands: Changes in biodiversity, species composition and specialisation in flower visitor networks. Basic Appl. Ecol. 12: 292–299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Wynhoff, I., R. van Gestel, C. van Swaay and F. van Langevelde. 2011. Not only the butterflies: Managing ants on road verges to benefit Phengaris (Maculinea) butterflies. J. Insect Conserv. 15: 189–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Zechmeister, H.G., I. Schmitzberger, B. Steurer, J. Peterseil and T. Wrbka. 2003. The influence of land-use practices and economics on plant species richness in meadows. Biol. Conserv. 114: 165–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Zschokke, S., C. Dolt, H.-P. Rusterholz, P. Oggier, B. Braschler, G.H. Thommen, E. Lüdin, A. Erhardt and B. Baur. 2003: Short-term responses of plants and invertebrates to experimental small-scale grassland fragmentation. Oecologia 125: 559–572.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. Pech.

Electronic supplementary material

Rights and permissions

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pech, P., Dolanský, J., Hrdlička, R. et al. Differential response of communities of plants, snails, ants and spiders to long-term mowing in a small-scale experiment. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 16, 115–124 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1556/168.2015.16.1.13

Download citation

Keywords

  • Araneae
  • Biodiversity
  • Formicidae
  • Management
  • Mollusca
  • Plants

Nomenclature

  • Ants - Seifert (2007)
  • bryophytes - Kučera et al. (2012)
  • molluscs - Horsák et al. (2013)
  • spiders - Platnick (2013)
  • vascular plants - Kubát et al. (2002)