Threatened species in a vanishing habitat: plants and invertebrates in calcareous grasslands in the Swiss Jura mountains

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We examined the diversity of vascular plants, butterflies, grasshoppers, gastropods and carabid beetles in three calcareous grasslands in the northwestern Swiss Jura mountains, a habitat type that has decreased dramatically during the recent decades. As many as 58 species (ca 22%) of the 266 collected are listed as threatened in northern Switzerland. The number of threatened species ranged from 27 to 49 per site, and 26 species occurred in only one of the three grasslands. The species richness of butterflies and vascular plants correlated positively among the grasslands, while the species richness of other groups did not covary. An index of complementarity indicated that the species compositions (including non-threatened species, and spiders and oribatid mites) of the groups varied greatly among the grasslands. In addition, herbivorous groups were more widely distributed than predators among the three grasslands. Due to this variation in species composition none of the three sites c an substitute for the others, if the biodiversity of these grasslands is to be maintained. Furthermore, the taxonomic groups studied are poor indicators of each others‘ diversity. Consequently, we support the ’shopping basket‘ approach to conservation evaluation, i.e. measuring species richness, species composition and complementarity of several groups instead of just one.

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