Transient peak in moth diversity as a response to organic farming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Few initiatives to preserve and enhance biodiversity on farmland have been as thoroughly evaluated and debated as the agri-environment schemes (AES). Yet, little is known how confounding factors co-varying with the specific AES measures may affect species responses. Here, we quantify the influence of one such factor, the time since transition to organic farming, on moth diversity patterns. We found that species richness and abundance of moths were higher on new organic farms (years since transition ≤6) compared to old organic (≥15 years) and conventional farms, indicating a transient diversity peak. This correlates with the abundance patterns of the weed Cirsium arvense, which also reached its highest densities on new organic farms. Weeds such as C. arvense constitute a notorious problem in organic farming. However, they also provide various resources for farmland biodiversity, and our results strongly suggest that the transient weed peak may be important in influencing the parallel peak among the moths. This stresses the problem in balancing out production and conservation values. More generally, our results show that rather than having static effects on the environment, AES can have an important temporal component and result in a dynamic interplay between different trophic levels.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Agri-environment schemes, Agricultural intensification, Cirsium arvense, Farmland biodiversity, Farmland conservation, Temporal effects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-522
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch