Monitoring of butterflies in semi-natural grasslands: diurnal variation and weather effects

  • Linnea Wikström
  • Per Milberg
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
Original Paper


The butterfly fauna was monitored in six semi-natural grasslands in southeastern Sweden. The aim was to evaluate monitoring criteria for wind, sunshine, temperature and time of day for butterfly species richness and abundances when using the line transect method. A total of 30,111 butterflies belonging to 46 species were recorded. Data from this study suggests somewhat stricter criteria for temperature and sunshine than stated in the widely used “Pollards walk”. A sharp decline in butterfly numbers were detected at temperatures below 19°C if the proportion of sunshine of the transect walk was below 80–85%. No effect of wind speed, up to five on the Beaufort scale, on observed numbers of species or individuals were found. Several butterfly species showed well-defined diurnal rythms of flight activity, and the results indicated that transect walks can be performed between −4.5 and +4 h from the time when the sun reached its highest point. The results of this study can be used to adjust general criteria in national monitoring and also for detailed regional and local monitoring where it may be important to adjust for diurnal rhythm and weather related bias.


Lepidoptera Line transect method Species richness Weather conditions 



We want to thank Jens Johannesson, Carina Greiff, Anders Glimskär, Markus Franzén, Dennis Jonason, Martin Planthaber, Joakim Sandell and Victor Johansson for their help. We also want to thank all the landowners who kindly let us work on their property. Stiftelsen Oscar och Lili Lamms Minne supported this work financially.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linnea Wikström
    • 1
  • Per Milberg
    • 1
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
    • 1
  1. 1.IFM Division of EcologyLinköping UniversityLinkopingSweden

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