Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 14, pp 3455-3469

First online:

Butterfly monitoring in Europe: methods, applications and perspectives

  • Chris A. M. van SwaayAffiliated withDe Vlinderstichting – Dutch Butterfly ConservationButterfly Conservation Europe Email author 
  • , Piotr NowickiAffiliated withInstitute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University
  • , Josef SetteleAffiliated withDepartment of Community Ecology, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchButterfly Conservation Europe
  • , Arco J. van StrienAffiliated withStatistics Netherlands

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Since the first Butterfly Monitoring Scheme in the UK started in the mid-1970s, butterfly monitoring in Europe has developed in more than ten European countries. These schemes are aimed to assess regional and national trends in butterfly abundance per species. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of methods used in these schemes and give examples of applications of the data. A new development is to establish supra-national trends per species and multispecies indicators. Such indicators enable to report against the target to halt biodiversity loss by 2010. Our preliminary European Grassland Butterfly Indicator shows a decline of 50% between 1990 and 2005. We expect to develop a Grassland Butterfly Indicator with an improved coverage across European countries. We see also good perspectives to develop a supra-national indicator for climate change as well as an indicator for woodland butterflies.


Biodiversity Climate change Indicators Nature management Population trends Transect counts