Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 33-42

First online:

Bias in Butterfly Distribution Maps: The Effects of Sampling Effort

  • Roger L.H. DennisAffiliated withManchester Museum, Manchester University
  • , Tim H. SparksAffiliated withITE at Monks Wood
  • , Peter B. HardyAffiliated with

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Data from the Greater Manchester Butterfly Atlas (UK) reveal a highly significant and substantial impact of visits on both species' richness and species' incidence in squares. This effect has been demonstrated for three different zones mapped at different scales. The significant impact of number of visits persists when data are amalgamated for coarser scales. The findings demonstrate that it is essential for distribution mapping projects to record data on recording effort as well as on the target organisms. Suggestions are made as to how distribution mapping may be improved, including a geographically and environmentally representative structure of permanently monitored squares and closer links between distribution mapping and the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (BMS), which primarily monitors changes in butterfly populations. The benefit to conservation will be data that can be better used to analyse the reasons for changes in ranges and distributions, fundamental for determining priorities and policy decisions.

mapping database bias recording monitoring Lepidoptera