Effects of management cessation on hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) across Austrian and Swiss mountain meadows

Walcher, Ronnie; Hussain, Raja Imran; Karrer, Johannes; Bohner, Andreas; Brandl, David; Zaller, Johann G.; Arnberger, Arne; Frank, Thomas

Extensively managed grasslands, particularly in mountain regions, are considered to be one of the most diverse agroecosystems worldwide. Their decline due to land use abandonment affects the diversity of both plants and associated pollinators. Extensive grasslands constitute an important habitat type and food resource for hoverflies (syrphids); however, not much is known about the effects of abandonment on this important pollinator group. In the present study, we investigated how abandonment affects species richness and the composition of syrphids in mountainous meadows. We recorded the richness of vascular plants, vegetation cover, flower cover and the surrounding landscape to examine whether and how syrphids are affected by plant and landscape parameters. We investigated the species richness, abundance and species composition of syrphids by sweep netting and by using observation plots in 18 semidry meadows across two Austrian regions and one Swiss region. For each region, we selected three meadows abandoned for more than 20 years and three annually mown non-fertilized meadows. Abandonment or mowing had no significant effect on the total number of syrphid species or individuals or on the number of aphidophagous and non-aphidophagous species and individuals. However, the total number of species and the number of non-aphidophagous species significantly increased with the increasing number of plant species. The surrounding landscape and other plant parameters showed no association with the assessed syrphid parameters. Although syrphids were unaffected by abandonment, higher syrphid species numbers in response to a higher plant richness in annual mown meadows suggest that the management of mountain meadows is beneficial in preserving syrphid richness.

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Walcher, Ronnie / Hussain, Raja Imran / Karrer, Johannes / et al: Effects of management cessation on hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) across Austrian and Swiss mountain meadows. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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