Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 14, pp 3455–3469 | Cite as

Butterfly monitoring in Europe: methods, applications and perspectives

  • Chris A. M. van SwaayEmail author
  • Piotr Nowicki
  • Josef Settele
  • Arco J. van Strien
Original Paper


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 



This paper was written with financial support from EuMon (; contr. number 6463; Schmeller et al 2006); and EU FP6 Integrated Project “ALARM” (; GOCE-CT-2003-506675; Settele et al. 2005), two research projects supported by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme. The following people gave help and support to develop the European grassland butterfly indicator: David Roy, Tom Brereton, Sergey Popov, Patrick Leopold, Dirk Maes, Constanti Stefanescu, Petra Ramseier, Mikko Kuussaari, Dominique Langlois and Tim Pavlicek. Adriaan Gmelig Meyling helped in producing the supranational indices and the final European Grassland Butterfly Indicator. We also want to thank Pierre-Yves Henry and two other anonymous reviewers for their inspiring comments. Last but not least, Butterfly Monitoring Schemes would never have been possible without the cooperation of hundreds of voluntary recorders all over Europe.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris A. M. van Swaay
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Piotr Nowicki
    • 3
  • Josef Settele
    • 4
    • 2
  • Arco J. van Strien
    • 5
  1. 1.De Vlinderstichting – Dutch Butterfly ConservationWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Butterfly Conservation EuropeWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of Environmental SciencesJagiellonian UniversityKrakówPoland
  4. 4.Department of Community EcologyUFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchHalle (Saale)Germany
  5. 5.Statistics NetherlandsVoorburgThe Netherlands

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