Lowland grassland

Here is a picture of Lowland grassland project

Although some 25% of European farmland is under some sort of agri-environmental contract, these schemes have provided only moderate benefits for biodiversity until now. The restoration of farmland biodiversity is believed to require changes that go beyond conventional farming extensification. In the Swiss lowlands, the greatest biodiversity restoration potential is within extensively managed meadows, which are the main type of Ecological Compensation Areas (ECA). At 12 study sites across the Swiss Plateau, we experimentally modify mowing regime (date of mowing, time gap between grass cuts, unmown grass refuges) in ECA meadows in order to increase temporal, spatial and ecological heterogeneity. We are working at different spatial scales (field, farm and landscape) and with various indicator plant and animal taxa. We measure both species richness and population abundance to better appraise ecosytem functionalities.

Uni Bern supervisors

Jean-Yves Humbert, Raphaël Arlettaz


van Klink, R., S. Boch, P. Buri, N.S. Rieder, J.Y. Humbert & R. Arlettaz. 2017. No detrimental effects of delayed mowing or uncut grass refuges on plant and bryophyte community structure and phytomass production in low-intensity hay meadows. Basic and Applied Ecology 20: 1-9. (PDF, 520KB)

Meyer, S., D. Unternährer, R. Arlettaz, J.Y. Humbert & M.H.M. Menz. 2017. Promoting diverse communities of wild bees and hoverflies requires a landscape approach to managing meadows. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 239: 376-384. (PDF, 562KB)

Buri, P., J.Y. Humbert, M. Stańska, I. Hajdamowicz, E. Tran, M.H. Entling & R. Arlettaz. 2016. Delayed mowing promotes planthoppers, leafhoppers and spiders in extensively managed meadows. Insect Conservation and Diversity 9: 536-545. (PDF, 214KB)

Bruppacher, L., J. Pellet, R. Arlettaz & J.Y. Humbert. 2016. Simple modifications of mowing regime promote butterflies in extensively managed meadows: Evidence from field-scale experiments. Biological Conservation 196: 196-202. (PDF, 577KB)

Kühne, I., R. Arlettaz, J. Pellet, L. Bruppacher & J.Y. Humbert. 2015. Leaving an uncut grass refuge promotes butterfly abundance in extensively managed lowland hay meadows in Switzerland. Conservation Evidence 12: 25-27. (PDF, 434KB)

Buri, P., J.Y. Humbert & R. Arlettaz. 2014. Promoting Pollinating Insects in Intensive Agricultural Matrices: Field-Scale Experimental Manipulation of Hay-Meadow Mowing Regimes and Its Effects on Bees. PLoS ONE 9: e85635. (PDF, 294KB)

Buri, P., R. Arlettaz & J.Y. Humbert. 2013. Delaying mowing and leaving uncut refuges boosts orthopterans in extensively managed meadows: Evidence drawn from field-scale experimentation. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 181: 22-30. (PDF, 444KB)

Humbert, J.Y., J. Pellet, P. Buri & R. Arlettaz. 2012. Does delaying the first mowing date benefit biodiversity in meadowland? Environmental Evidence 1: article 9 (13 p.). (PDF, 646KB)

Humbert, J.Y., J. Ghazoul, N. Richner, & T. Walter. 2012. Uncut grass refuges mitigate the impact of mechanical meadow harvesting on orthopterans. Biological Conservation 152: 96-101.(PDF, 302KB)

Ongoing Project

2014-2016. Designing tomorrow’s farmland: alternative mowing regimes for promoting biodiversity in extensively managed meadowland (continuation).

Related PhD thesis

Buri, P. 2013. Designing tomorrow’s farmland: alternative mowing regimes for promoting biodiversity in extensively managed meadowland. PhD Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 4.9 MB)

Related Master thesis

Szikora, T. 2015. Promoting parasitic wasps among Swiss lowland extensively managed meadows: positive effects of delaying mowing and leaving uncut grass refuges. Master Thesis, University of Bern.

Kühne, I. 2015. Landscape woody features, meadow plant composition and mowing regime shape moth communities in extensively managed grasslands. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 190KB)

Unternährer, D. 2015. Leaving uncut refuges within lowland extensively managed meadows secures wild bee species richness and diversity. Master Thesis. University of Bern. (PDF, 865KB)

Bruppacher, L. 2014. Evidence-based mowing recommendations to restore butterfly populations in extensively managed grasslands. Master Thesis, University of Bern.

Tran, E. 2014. Effect of four different mowing regimes on ground-dwelling spiders in Swiss lowland extensively managed hay meadows. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 609KB)