The role of 'low-input' agri-environmental schemes in the enhancement of functional biodiversity of Hungarian arable fields


Abstract: The Mezőföld region in Hungary typically consists of intensive arable land whichdominates large areas on the loess plateaus of the region, and low-input meadows in mosaic withwooded areas which are typical for the incised loess valleys. We carried out a landscapeexperiment in seven 5×5 km quadrates in the region. The quadrates contained differentproportions of arable land and low-input meadow areas, thus represented a land-use intensitygradient. We studied the exchange of functional biodiversity between these habitat types at aseries of spatial scales. We regarded spider assemblages of the sampled plots as a model groupthat represents broader functional biodiversity. Samples were taken for three years in two cerealfield plots and in one meadow plot per landscape quadrate. We studied the effect of the presenceof different habitat types in the landscape neighbourhood of the plots on spider species richness,abundance and community composition. For spiders in the meadow plots the presence of arablehabitats had in general a negative effect, while for spiders in the cereal plots the presence ofmeadows had a positive effect after controlling for local environmental variables and taking intoaccount spatial effect. This analysis had been performed five times for each plot to take intoaccount habitat types within five different radii between 50-1000m. The strongest effects wereobserved for habitats within the 100m and 600m circles both for meadow and cereal plot spiderassemblages. These and further studies into the effective distances of interacting habitat typesmay help to optimize the spatial distribution of agri-environmental schemes.

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