Thursday, 19 April 2012

Butterflies, biodiversity indicators and long-term change

Updated 1655 19th April 2012 with table of 'winners' and 'losers' (see below)

This morning the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme published results for surveys carried out in 2011. The UKBMS has run since 1976 and involves thousands of volunteers collecting data every week throughout the summer from more than 1000 sites across the UK.

Data for the UKBMS is classified as official statistics which are subsequently used as biodiversity indicators for the whole of the UK and at a country level in England and Scotland. The data is crunched to produce indicators for habitat specialist and wider countryside specialists. In England there is more detailed work producing indicators which analyse differences in farmland and woodland habitats.

Heath Fritillary c. Ross Newham

Annual trends are interesting, but monitoring of longer term changes is also very important in order to assess the state of UK butterfly populations. Dr Marc Botham stated in the press release accompanying the UKBMS 2011 release that, “Annual trends show us how strongly the day-to-day weather can affect butterfly populations in the short-term but the UKBMS dataset collected over 36 years reiterates the importance of long-term data in assessing the beyond these annual fluctuations.”

Trends in specialist and wider countryside species - taken from 'The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011'

If you’re interested in the longer term changes in the state of UK butterflies take a look at the “The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2011” report, published late last year, which uses the UKBMS data collected over two decades to conclude that “Almost three-quarters of UK butterfly species have decreased in population during the last decade.”


CEH news story on the 2011 UKBMS results
More on how butterfly data is used for biodiversity indicators can be found on the UKBMS website
The latest UK Biodiversity indicators were published in May 2011  The 2012 version should be published next month and will incorporate the UKBMS statistics published today.

The 2011 UKBMS statistics 'Summary of changes' can be found here (pdf)

Examples of butterfly species used within the different indicators include:
Farmland – Adonis blue
Woodland- Purple emperor, white admiral, purple hairstreak
Specialists – large blue, the fritillaries
Wider countryside – Peacock, small tortoiseshell, orange tip, all of the whites
More details are available from The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme

Update - 1655 17th April 2012

Butterfly Conservation, our partners in the Uk Butterfly Monitoring Scheme have supplied a table of the top 10 species of 'winner's and 'losers' from the 2011 statistics. n.b. results should be interpreted with caution as some of the percentage values, such as the number for the Glanville Fritillary, are based on relatively small sample sizes. All the background details can be found in the pdf file containing the full statistics here.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Shelducks on Doxey Marshes

Shelducks on Doxey Marshes by AndyStraw
Shelducks on Doxey Marshes, a photo by AndyStraw on Flickr.
Many thanks to those of you who have added photos to our "Wetlands in the UK" group on Flickr. A few contributors have been busy over the Easter holiday period: images added in the last week include shots of shelducks, moorhens and egrets.

The group is a place to share photos taken at any wetlands site in the UK, particularly photos of the species that depend on and thrive on those sites. Photographs of birds definitely predominate at the moment! Why not browse through the images and consider adding any of your own that are relevant.