University of Oulu

Miguel Silva-Monteiro, Jeroen Scheper, Hannes Pehlak, Olavi Kurina, Sami Timonen, Jorma Pessa, Esko Pasanen, Mo Verhoeven, Jelle Loonstra, Theunis Piersma, Frederic Robin, Michał Korniluk, Piotr Świętochowski, Melissa Onwezen, Morten Bongers, Jaap Hamelink, Sander Bik, Frederik Lembreght, Audrey Dunn, David Kleijn, Invertebrate abundance increases with vegetation productivity across natural and agricultural wader breeding habitats in Europe, Biological Conservation, Volume 273, 2022, 109670, ISSN 0006-3207,

Invertebrate abundance increases with vegetation productivity across natural and agricultural wader breeding habitats in Europe

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Author: Silva-Monteiro, Miguel1,2; Scheper, Jeroen2; Pehlak, Hannes1;
Organizations: 1Institute of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwaldi 5, 51006 Tartu, Estonia
2Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
3The University of Oulu, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Finland
4The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, North Ostrobothnia, Finland
5Nurmikankuja 6-8 AS. 5, 04410 Järvenpää, Finland
6Conservation Ecology Group, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, the Netherlands
7RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
8LPO France, Fonderies Royales, 17300 Rochefort, France
9Museum & Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 00-679 Warsaw, Poland
10Nature Association Dubelt, Juszkowy Gród 17, 16-050 Michałowo, Poland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-01


Grassland breeding waders have been steadily declining across Europe. Recent studies indicating a dramatic decline in grassland invertebrates’ abundance and biomass, the key food of most grassland wader chicks, suggest a likely driver of the demise of waders. While agricultural intensification is generally inferred as the main cause for arthropod decline there is surprisingly little information on the relationship between land use intensity and total arthropod abundance in grasslands. Here, we explored those relationships across several key wader breeding habitats by surveying ground-active, aerial and soil-dwelling invertebrate communities in five European countries that range from natural undisturbed bogs to intensively managed grasslands. Using maximum vegetation growth and soil moisture content we investigated how they shape the size of the invertebrate community within and across different countries. We found predominantly positive relationships between grassland invertebrate abundance, biomass and body weight with increasing vegetation growth and soil moisture. Maximum vegetation growth was strongly positively related to ground-active invertebrate abundance and biomass and abundance of soil dwelling invertebrates (mainly earthworms). Body weight of aerial invertebrates furthermore increased with increasing maximum vegetation growth. Our results provide little support for the hypothesis that agricultural practices associated with intensification of grassland management result in an abundance decline of invertebrate prey for wader chicks. Conservation practices aiming to enhance wader chick survival require a careful balancing act between maintaining habitat productivity to secure high prey abundance, and keeping productivity low enough to maintain open swards that do not need to be cut before chicks have fledged.

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Series: Biological conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
ISSN-E: 1873-2917
ISSN-L: 0006-3207
Volume: 273
Article number: 109670
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109670
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: MSM was funded by a grant from Wageningen University and Research Centre to DK (proj. nr. 5160957485). JL and MV and the research infrastructure in NL were supported by the Province of Fryslân and the NWO-Spinoza Premium 2014 to TP.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (