17 years of grassland management leads to parallel local and regional biodiversity shifts among a wide range of taxonomic groups

C. G.E. van Noordwijk*, Lander Baeten, Hans Turin, Theodoor Heijerman, Kees Alders, Peter Boer, A. A. Mabelis, Berend Aukema, Aart Noordam, Eva Remke, Henk Siepel, Matty P. Berg, Dries Bonte

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Conservation management is expected to increase local biodiversity, but uniform management may lead to biotic homogenization and diversity losses at the regional scale. We evaluated the effects of renewed grazing and cutting management carried out across a whole region, on the diversity of plants and seven arthropod groups. Changes in occurrence over 17 years of intensive calcareous grassland management were analysed at the species level, which gave insight into the exact species contributing to regional homogenization or differentiation. Reponses were compared between species differing in habitat affinity, dispersal ability, food specialisation and trophic level. Local species richness increased over the sampling period for true bugs and millipedes, while carabid beetles and weevils declined in local species richness. Species richness remained unchanged for plants, woodlice, ants and spiders. Regional diversity and compositional variation generally followed local patterns. Diversity shifts were only to a limited extent explained by species’ habitat affinity, dispersal ability, trophic level and food specialisation. We conclude that implementation of relatively uniform conservation management across a region did not lead to uniform changes in local species composition. This is an encouraging result for conservation managers, as it shows that there is not necessarily a conflict of interest between local and regional conservation goals. Our study also demonstrates that shifts in diversity patterns differ markedly between taxonomic groups. Single traits provide only limited understanding of these differences. This highlights the need for a wide taxonomic scope when evaluating conservation management and demonstrates the need to understand the mechanisms underlying occurrence shifts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)717-734
    Number of pages18
    JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


    • Arthropods
    • Beta-diversity
    • Conservation management
    • Insects
    • Plants
    • Trait


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