Local and landscape responses of biodiversity in calcareous grasslands

Jacqueline Loos*, Jochen Krauss, Ashley Lyons, Stephanie Föst, Constanze Ohlendorf, Severin Racky, Marina Röder, Lennart Hudel, Volker Herfert, Teja Tscharntke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Across Europe, calcareous grasslands become increasingly fragmented and their quality deteriorates through abandonment and land use intensification, both affecting biodiversity. Here, we investigated local and landscape effects on diversity patterns of several taxonomic groups in a landscape of highly fragmented calcareous grassland remnants. We surveyed 31 grassland fragments near Göttingen, Germany, in spring and summer 2017 for vascular plants, butterflies and birds, with sampling effort adapted to fragment area. Through regression modelling, we tested relationships between species richness and fragment size (from 314 to 51,395 m2), successional stage, habitat connectivity and the per cent cover of arable land in the landscape at several radii. We detected 283 plant species, 53 butterfly species and 70 bird species. Of these, 59 plant species, 19 butterfly species and 9 bird species were grassland specialists. Larger fragments supported twice the species richness of plants than small ones, and hosted more species of butterflies, but not of birds. Larger grassland fragments contained more grassland specialist plants, but not butterfly or bird specialists. Increasing amounts of arable land in the landscape from 20 to 90% was related to the loss of a third of species of plants, and less so, of butterflies, but not of birds. Per cent cover of arable land negatively correlated to richness of grassland specialist plants and butterflies, but positively to grassland specialist birds. We found no effect by successional stages and habitat connectivity. Our multi-taxa approach highlights the need for conservation management at the local scale, complemented by measures at the landscape scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2415-2432
Number of pages18
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number8-9
Early online date26 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


  • Abandonment
  • Birds
  • Butterflies
  • Land use intensification
  • Nature conservation
  • Vascular plants


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