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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Conservation of wildlife in managed landscapes can be facilitated by partnering with livestock producers to introduce grazing disturbances. The effects of grazing in grassland systems, however, are often a function of other disturbances that may occur simultaneously. The goal of this study was to determine how grazing and flooding disturbances interacted to affect butterfly communities on wetland reserve program easements. We sampled butterflies from 2008-2011 in two large grassland habitats, one exposed to low density cow-calf grazing and one maintained as a control. Both grassland habitats were severely flooded in 2008. Repeated-measures ANOVA suggested that time since flooding and the interaction between flooding and grazing were important predictors of butterfly richness at these sites. Grazing may have delayed the post-flood recolonization by butterflies, but by 2011, the grazed system contained a slightly higher species richness of butterflies than the ungrazed system. The grazed and ungrazed grasslands converged in butterfly species composition over the course of four years. Our results suggest that grazing may be a useful tool for managing wetland reserve program easement habitats and that both flood- ing and grazing did not appear to have lasting negative impacts on butterfly communities at our sites.

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Entomology Commons

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