Habitat management: see Swengels' papers

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Wed Jan 23 19:31:40 EST 2002

With all the recent discussions of habitat and management recently, I
suggest that people might like to read a series of papers by Ann and Scott
Swengel who have studied the impact of different habitat management
strategies (none, haying, burning, grazing) on butterfly populations in
prairie and oak barrens in Wisconsin and other mid-western states. Their
work illustrates the complexity of the problem. This paper published in the
journal Biodiversity and Conservation (10:1757-1785) in 2001, notes that
most ecologists assume that the prairies have been maintained by fire which
has inhibited succession and that most prairie specialists are therefore
fire-adapted.  Based on multiple regression analyses of over 120,000
butterly records in 125 barrens and 106 prairie sites, they found that
burning generally favored higher numbers (my interpretation) than "idling"
in  barrens but NOT in  prairies.  They also found many other
inconsistencies indicating that there is no single practice that is
uniformly better than any other practice in all habitats or even in all
prairie habitats. They caution that managers should “avoid overreliance on
one management type over others".

Mike Gochfeld


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