Livestock grazing in low-intensity farming systems is a key aspect in the conservation of Europe's biodiversity, which reaches high levels of species richness in semi-natural grasslands. With the demise of traditional grazing systems, the design of viable low-intensity grazing systems for the future requires a good understanding of grazing impacts on biodiversity. Here, I review various scale-dependent aspects of selective grazing and how they may affect biodiversity. Insects such as butterflies are well-suited to elucidate small-scale impacts of grazing intensity. They highlight the importance of viewing grazing impacts in a framework of spatial heterogeneity and successional dynamics. In order to optimise these successional dynamics, grazing management may adopt techniques such as rotational grazing and strategic placement of mineral licks. However, we still lack a good evidence base on the effects of targeted grazing practices on biodiversity. The challenge to solve this gap can be met by a combination of creative field experiments that focus on the mechanisms of biodiversity responses and adaptive management that builds on a continuous feedback from sound monitoring.
|Title of host publication||Mountain pastures and livestock farming facing uncertainty: environmental, technical and socio-economic challenges|
|Editors||I. Casasús, G. Lombardi|
|Place of Publication||Zaragoza|
|Publisher||Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
|Name||Options Méditerranéennes series A: Mediterranean Seminars|