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Differential indirect effects of excluding livestock and rabbits from chalk heath on the associated leafhopper (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) fauna
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 20:24 authored by David Fisher Barham, Alan StewartAlan Stewart
Preliminary results are presented of sampling the leafhopper assemblages on a field experiment designed to examine the differential effects of rabbits and livestock (mainly sheep) on the vegetation of chalk heath in southern England. Experimental plots that excluded livestock either allowed entry by rabbits or excluded them. Results were compared with those from plots grazed by both livestock and rabbits. After 7 years, exclusion of grazing herbivores had resulted in predictable increases in vegetation height, but no major changes were detected in the species composition of the vegetation. As expected, ungrazed plots had higher species richness and greater abundances of several individual leafhopper species. However, plots grazed only by rabbits had a leafhopper assemblage that was distinct from either ungrazed or mixed grazing plots. It is suggested that rabbit grazing may have subtle effects on grassland invertebrate assemblages that are not necessarily predictable from an examination of the species composition of the vegetation. Chalk heath vegetation contains an unusual mixture of calcicole and calcifuge plant species, but the leafhopper assemblage included a restricted number of calcareous grassland specialist species and only one species strongly associated with acidic grasslands; most leafhoppers recorded were generalist grassland species.
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Department affiliated with
- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
NotesThe two authors contributed equally to fieldwork and laboratory processing of samples. I carried out the statistical analysis of the data and wrote the paper.
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