Integrating national Red Lists for prioritising conservation actions for European butterflies

  • Dirk MaesEmail author
  • Rudi Verovnik
  • Martin Wiemers
  • Dimitri Brosens
  • Stoyan Beshkov
  • Simona Bonelli
  • Jaroslaw Buszko
  • Lisette Cantú-Salazar
  • Louis-Francis Cassar
  • Sue Collins
  • Vlad Dincă
  • Milan Djuric
  • Goran Dušej
  • Hallvard Elven
  • Filip Franeta
  • Patricia Garcia-Pereira
  • Yurii Geryak
  • Philippe Goffart
  • Ádám Gór
  • Ulrich Hiermann
  • Helmut Höttinger
  • Peter Huemer
  • Predrag Jakšić
  • Eddie John
  • Henrik Kalivoda
  • Vassiliki Kati
  • Paul Kirkland
  • Benjamin Komac
  • Ádám Kőrösi
  • Anatolij Kulak
  • Mikko Kuussaari
  • Lionel L’Hoste
  • Suvad Lelo
  • Xavier Mestdagh
  • Nikola Micevski
  • Iva Mihoci
  • Sergiu Mihut
  • Yeray Monasterio-León
  • Dmitry V. Morgun
  • Miguel L. Munguira
  • Tomás Murray
  • Per Stadel Nielsen
  • Erling Ólafsson
  • Erki Õunap
  • Lazaros N. Pamperis
  • Alois Pavlíčko
  • Lars B. Pettersson
  • Serhiy Popov
  • Miloš Popović
  • Juha Pöyry
  • Mike Prentice
  • Lien Reyserhove
  • Nils Ryrholm
  • Martina Šašić
  • Nikolay Savenkov
  • Josef Settele
  • Marcin Sielezniew
  • Sergey Sinev
  • Constanti Stefanescu
  • Giedrius Švitra
  • Toomas Tammaru
  • Anu Tiitsaar
  • Elli Tzirkalli
  • Olga Tzortzakaki
  • Chris A. M. van Swaay
  • Arne Lykke Viborg
  • Irma Wynhoff
  • Konstantina Zografou
  • Martin S. Warren


Red Lists are very valuable tools in nature conservation at global, continental and (sub-) national scales. In an attempt to prioritise conservation actions for European butterflies, we compiled a database with species lists and Red Lists of all European countries, including the Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands). In total, we compiled national species lists for 42 countries and national Red Lists for 34 of these. The most species-rich countries in Europe are Italy, Russia and France with more than 250 species each. Endemic species are mainly found on the Macaronesian archipelagos and on the Mediterranean islands. By attributing numerical values proportionate to the threat statuses in the different national Red List categories, we calculated a mean Red List value for every country (cRLV) and a weighted Red List value for every species (wsRLV) using the square root of the country’s area as a weighting factor. Countries with the highest cRLV were industrialised (NW) European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Denmark, whereas large Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Italy had the lowest cRLV. Species for which a Red List assessment was available in at least two European countries and with a relatively high wsRLV (≥ 50) are Colias myrmidone, Pseudochazara orestes, Tomares nogelii, Colias chrysotheme and Coenonympha oedippus. We compared these wsRLVs with the species statuses on the European Red List to identify possible mismatches. We discuss how this complementary method can help to prioritise butterfly conservation on the continental and/or the (sub-)national scale.


Policy Management Threatened species Habitats directive IUCN Biogeography Lepidoptera 



We would like to thank all volunteers in the different European countries for their help in the compilation of national species check lists. Hans Van Calster was very helpful with statistical analyses. Marc Pollet and two reviewers gave very useful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. Peter Desmet is kindly thanked for his help with the open data publishing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Species Diversity GroupResearch Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Butterfly Conservation Europe (BCE)WageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Biotechnical FacultyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  4. 4.Department of Community EcologyUFZ, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchHalleGermany
  5. 5.Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)BrusselsBelgium
  6. 6.Belgian Biodiversity PlatformBrusselsBelgium
  7. 7.National Museum of Natural HistorySofiaBulgaria
  8. 8.Department of Life Sciences and Systems BiologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  9. 9.Nicolaus Copernicus UniversityToruńPoland
  10. 10.Luxembourg Institute of Science and TechnologyEsch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg
  11. 11.Institute of Earth SystemsUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta
  12. 12.Department of Ecology and GeneticsUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  13. 13.HabiProtBelgradeSerbia
  14. 14.Swiss Butterfly ConservationRottenschwilSwitzerland
  15. 15.Natural History MuseumUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  16. 16.Institute of Field and Vegetable CropsNovi SadSerbia
  17. 17.Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Change (cE3c) FCULLisbonPortugal
  18. 18.Lviv department of Ukrainian Entomological SocietyLvivUkraine
  19. 19.Département d’Etude du Milieu naturel et agricole (SPW/DEMNA/DNE)Service Public de WallonieGemblouxBelgium
  20. 20.Department of EcologyUniversity of Veterinary MedicineBudapestHungary
  21. 21.RankweilAustria
  22. 22.Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity ResearchUniversity of Natural Resources and Live SciencesViennaAustria
  23. 23.Hall in TirolAustria
  24. 24.Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, Department of Biology and EcologyUniversity of NišNišSerbia
  25. 25.Cyprus Butterfly Study groupNicosiaCyprus
  26. 26.Institute of Landscape EcologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  27. 27.Department of Biological Applications & TechnologyUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece
  28. 28.Butterfly ConservationWarehamUK
  29. 29.Centre d’Estudis de la Neu i la Muntanya d’Andorra - Institut d’Estudis Andorrans (CENMA - IEA)Sant Julià de LòriaAndorra
  30. 30.MTA-ELTE-MTM Ecology Research GroupBudapestHungary
  31. 31.Hungarian Lepidopterological SocietyÉrdHungary
  32. 32.The Scientific and Practical Center for Bioresources of NAS of BelarusMinskBelarus
  33. 33.Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)HelsinkiFinland
  34. 34.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina
  35. 35.Macedonian Entomological Society (ENTOMAK)SkopjeFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  36. 36.Croatian Natural History MuseumZagrebCroatia
  37. 37.Focal Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring and ConservationCluj-NapocaRomania
  38. 38.Asociación Española para la Protección de las Mariposas y su Medio ZERYNTHIALogroñoSpain
  39. 39.Moscow Centre of Environmental EducationRegional Research and TourismMoscowRussia
  40. 40.Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  41. 41.National Biodiversity Data CentreWaterfordIreland
  42. 42.Lepidopterologisk Forening (Lepidopterological Society)KokkedalDenmark
  43. 43.Icelandic Institute of Natural HistoryGarðabaerIceland
  44. 44.Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  45. 45.LarissaGreece
  46. 46.Společnost pro ochranu motýlů – SOM (Czech Butterflies Society)PrachaticeCzech Republic
  47. 47.Biodiversity Unit, Department of BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  48. 48.Butterfly Monitoring Scheme in the West UkraineUzhhorodUkraine
  49. 49.European Butterflies GroupWarehamUK
  50. 50.University of GävleGävleSweden
  51. 51.Latvian Museum of Natural HistoryRigaLatvia
  52. 52.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity ResearchLeipzigGermany
  53. 53.Laboratory of Insect Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, Institute of BiologyUniversity of BiałystokBiałystokPoland
  54. 54.Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of SciencesSaint-PetersburgRussia
  55. 55.Museu de Ciències Naturals de GranollersGranollersSpain
  56. 56.Lithuanian Entomological SocietyVilniusLithuania
  57. 57.Department of BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece
  58. 58.Dutch Butterfly ConservationWageningenThe Netherlands
  59. 59.Department of BiologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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