Eur. J. Entomol. 111 (5): 703-714, 2014 | 10.14411/eje.2014.089

Benign neglect enhances urban habitat heterogeneity: Responses of vegetation and carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) to the cessation of mowing of park lawns

Stephen VENN1, D. Johan KOTZE2
1 Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box. 65 (Viikinkaari 1), 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; e-mail: stephen.venn@helsinki.fi
2 Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box. 65 (Viikinkaari 2a), 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; e-mail: johan.kotze@helsinki.fi

In this study, we investigate the changes in both vascular plant and carabid beetle assemblages in response to reducing the intensity of management of park lawns in the city of Helsinki. Three levels of mowing were applied to patches of previously managed park lawns: (1) intensively mown, (2) mown until the previous season and unmanaged since, and (3) unmanaged for ten years (benign neglect). The lawns were dominated by plants that disperse vegetatively. This treatment gradient had little or no effect on the flight capability, feeding type or body-size of carabid beetles. However, there was an increase in species richness and the numbers of stenotopic species in the benign neglect treatment. We conclude that benign neglect of open grassland vegetation will result in higher levels of biodiversity than in more intensely managed vegetation. However, we consider it likely that the optimal strategy for maintaining urban biodiversity would be to apply a meadow management regime of mowing once or twice per year and leaving some areas of unmanaged grassland to maintain habitat heterogeneity.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Carabidae, benign neglect, carabid, ground beetles, lawn, park, granivore, urban, vegetation

Received: August 7, 2014; Accepted: September 24, 2014; Prepublished online: October 10, 2014; Published: December 10, 2014

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