[REGRASS] Re-establishing grasslands to promote farmland biodiversity and key ecosystem services

Runtime: 2015 – 2018

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)


Beside pesticide application and environmental pollution, habitat destruction and fragmentation are the main causes for species losses in Europe. Such landscape changes do not only lead to species loss, but may also severely affect ecosystem services such as crop pollination and biological pest control. While highly diverse grasslands continuously decreased, set-aside fallow land provided alternative habitat thus decelerating overall loss of farmland biodiversity. As there is a tremendous decline in EU subsidies since 2008 for the establishment of long-term set-aside on arable land, this type of habitat currently disappears rapidly from our agroecosystems. Therefore, modern agricultural land is increasingly populated by few common species that are well adapted to such homogeneous landscapes. On the other hand, specialist species with specific demands for their habitat or limited dispersal capacities will be more and more restricted to small randomly distributed habitat remnants. There are hence good reasons to worry about the maintenance of basic ecosystem services in our European landscapes.

In this project we will investigate whether newly established grasslands are appropriate to increase species richness for common agrobiont predators and pollinators and serve as temporal feeding habitats and dispersal corridor for habitat specialists. Furthermore, we will analyze how species specific traits affect temporal & spatial colonization patterns and whether newly established grasslands enhance ecosystem service efficacy of biological control and pollination.


Dietmar Moser