The effects of woodland management for pheasants on the abundance of butterflies in Dorset, England.
A survey of butterfly numbers was conducted on an area of woodland in Southern England using the transect method described by E. Pollard (1977), Biol. Conserv., 12, 115–124. The woodland contained areas of commercial forestry, areas managed specifically for pheasants, and unmanaged areas of derelict hazel coppice. Butterfly numbers were compared between these types.
Areas managed for pheasants contained significantly higher numbers and more species of butterflies than commercial or unmanaged areas. This appeared to be due to the wider width of the rides and more open canopy in woodland managed for pheasants, which allowed light to penetrate and encouraged the growth of ground flora, an effect known to be beneficial for both pheasants and butterflies.
Woodland management for pheasants can benefit many of the declining butterfly species associated with sunny, open woods. We suggest that the benefits for shooting may provide the incentive for landowners to carry out woodland management.