Klein, N., C. Theux, R. Arlettaz, A. Jacot & J. Pradervand (2020)

Modeling the effects of grassland management intensity on biodiversity

Further information

Ecol. and Evol. 10: 13518–13529








biodiversity, floral diversity, grassland management intensity, multitrophic, orthopteran abundance, plant indicator species, remote sensing



A growing food demand and advanced agricultural techniques increasingly affect farmland ecosystems, threatening invertebrate populations with cascading effects along the food chain upon insectivorous vertebrates. Supporting farmland biodiversity thus optimally requires the delineation of species hotspots at multiple trophic levels to prioritize conservation management. The goal of this study was to investigate the links between grassland management intensity and orthopteran density at the field scale and to upscale this information to the landscape in order to guide management action at landscape scale. More specifically, we investigated the relationships between grassland management intensity, floral indicator species, and orthopteran abundance in grasslands with different land use in the SW Swiss Alps. Field vegetation surveys of indicator plant species were used to generate a management intensity proxy, to which field assessments of orthopterans were related. Orthopteran abundance showed a hump-shaped response to management intensity, with low values in intensified, nutrient-rich grasslands and in nutrient-poor, xeric grasslands, while it peaked in middle-intensity grasslands. Combined with remote-sensed data about grassland gross primary productivity, the above proxy was used to build landscapewide, spatially explicit projections of the potential distribution of orthopteran-rich grasslands as possible foraging grounds for insectivorous vertebrates. This spatially explicit multitrophic approach enables the delineation of focal farmland areas in order to prioritize conservation action.