British butterfly distributions and the 2010 target
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- Asher, J., Fox, R. & Warren, M.S. J Insect Conserv (2011) 15: 291. doi:10.1007/s10841-010-9346-7
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Butterfly Conservation, in partnership with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Dublin Naturalists’ Field Club, has been coordinating the collation of detailed geographical records of butterfly sightings across Britain and Ireland, mainly made by volunteers, for a continuous period of 15 years since 1995. This has generated a dataset of over 7.5 million records, supplemented by collated historical records. Results at the end of the first five-year period (1995–9) and at the end of the second five-year period (2000–4) indicated significant range declines in many species over a 30-year period (since baseline distributions recorded in the 1970s); for other species, there has been a significant extension of range, principally towards more northerly latitudes. This paper shows the results of a preliminary analysis for the end of the third five-year period (2005–9), to assess progress towards the EU target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. The findings indicate that populations are continuing to be lost at a similar rate to previous periods, contrary to the 2010 target. In contrast, major northward extensions of range are reported for some mobile generalist species. Conservation successes are also reported for a few species whose declines have been halted and in some cases, reversed. Changes in range and species diversity remain consistent with the primary hypotheses for the causes of change: decreases caused by destruction, deterioration and fragmentation of biotopes and range increases in response to climate warming.