Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 1–2, pp 83–93 | Cite as

Recent trends in butterfly populations from north-east Spain and Andorra in the light of habitat and climate change

  • Constantí Stefanescu
  • Ignasi Torre
  • Jordi Jubany
  • Ferran Páramo
Original Paper


Although butterfly declines have been reported across Europe, no assessment based on detailed quantitative data has ever been made for any extensive area in the Mediterranean Basin. In 1994, a Butterfly Monitoring Scheme was launched in Catalonia (NE Spain), and in 2005 a similar, albeit much smaller, scheme started in the neighbouring Pyrenean country of Andorra. Here we provide a first thorough assessment of butterfly trends in both areas for the last 15 years. Several patterns emerged, above all a worrying decline of a substantial part of the fauna. It was also evident that habitat specialists are experiencing greater declines than habitat generalists, thereby butterfly communities becoming progressively dominated by common species. However, habitat indicators based on characteristic species also revealed that trends are actually associated with habitat types, grassland and scrub specialists declining strongly but woodland specialists showing a marginal increase. These differences are certainly related to profound landscape changes, mainly a dramatic reduction of semi-natural grasslands and open Mediterranean scrub, and a major increase in woodlands. The general effect of climatic warming on butterfly populations was investigated by using the temperature community index (CTI) approach. The thermal structure of butterfly communities remained very stable over time, except in one case where, contrary to the expectations, a significant negative trend in the CTI was noted. However, this surprising result can be explained by taking into account the above-reported pattern of butterfly communities becoming dominated by common species, characterized by low thermal indices in comparison with declining Mediterranean specialists.


Butterfly monitoring Population trends Land-use changes Habitat indicators Climatic warming Mediterranean basin 



Thanks are due to all the recorders who contribute data to the Catalan Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and BMSAnd. The Butterfly Monitoring Scheme in Catalonia is funded by the Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge de la Generalitat de Catalunya. The Diputació de Barcelona, Patronat Metropolità Parc de Collserola and Fundació Caixa de Catalunya have also given financial support to this project. The BMSAnd project is supported by the Centre d’Estudis de la Neu i la Muntanya d’Andorra (CENMA), from the Institut d’Estudis Andorrans (IEA).

Supplementary material

10841_2010_9325_MOESM1_ESM.doc (467 kb)
Table S1 Species detected in the CBMS, with the minimum, maximum and average number of sites at which they were annually recorded. Taxonomy as per Karsholt and Razowski (1996), with slight variations. Karsholt O, Razowski J (1996) The Lepidoptera of Europe. A Distribution Checklist. Apollo Books, Stenstrup. (DOC 467 kb)
10841_2010_9325_MOESM2_ESM.doc (26 kb)
Fig. S1 (a) Number of sites where butterflies were recorded each year; (b) Distribution of the complete annual series available (1994–2008) for all the sites used for calculating butterfly trends. (DOC 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constantí Stefanescu
    • 1
  • Ignasi Torre
    • 1
  • Jordi Jubany
    • 1
  • Ferran Páramo
    • 1
  1. 1.Butterfly Monitoring SchemeMuseu Granollers-Ciències NaturalsGranollers (Barcelona)Spain

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