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Effects of vegetation cutting on invertebrate communities of high conservation value Calluna upland peatlands

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Roy Sanderson



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Abstract.1. Upland moors and bogs in the United Kingdom are peatlands of highnature conservation value, many designated under the European Union’s Habitat Direc-tive, with internationally important bird populations, which depend on abundant inverte-brate populations when breeding.2. Moorland management in the United Kingdom traditionally employs controlledburning in 10–30 year rotations of heather,Calluna vulgaris, creating habitat mosaicsof different species composition and physical structure. This can increase overall inver-tebrate biodiversity and abundance, for certain key invertebrate groups. Burning haspotential negative environmental effects, including peat erosion and contamination ofdrinking-water supplies.3. Rotational cutting of vegetation is now being trialled as an alternative to burning,but its long-term effects on invertebrates are poorly understood. We surveyed inverte-brates on a 16-year chronosequence of rotational cutting on an extensive area of dwarfshrub vegetation on upland peat soils in Northern England.4. Invertebrate Simpson diversity was greatest on intermediate-aged patches, and alongedges between cut and uncut areas. Older patches, cut between 2000 and 2008, were domi-nated by ants (Hymenoptera-Formicidae), plant-feeding bugs (Hemiptera-Auchenor-rhyncha) and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera-Parasitica). Patches cut more recently,between2009and2016,hadsignificantlylowerinvertebrateabundance,andweredominatedby predatory ground beetles (Coleoptera-Carabidae), ants and harvestmen (Opiliones).5. There were significant relationships between vegetation and invertebrate commu-nity composition under both invertebrate sampling methods. We recommend that rota-tional cutting is used as the primary means of management, it should be undertaken inapproximately 15–20 year rotations, in irregularly shaped mosaics, to maximise the ben-efits to invertebrates and associated wildlife.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sanderson RA, Newton S, Selvidge J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Insect Conservation and Diversity

Year: 2020

Volume: 13

Issue: 3

Pages: 239-249

Print publication date: 01/05/2020

Online publication date: 08/10/2019

Acceptance date: 24/09/2019

Date deposited: 08/11/2019

ISSN (print): 1752-458X

ISSN (electronic): 1752-4598

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/icad.12384


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