Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 8, Issue 2–3, pp 119–136 | Cite as

Long-term population trends in widespread British moths

  • Kelvin F. Conrad
  • Ian P. Woiwod
  • Mark Parsons
  • Richard Fox
  • Martin S. Warren


The Rothamsted Insect Survey has operated a Great Britain-wide network of light-traps since 1968. From these data we estimated the first ever national abundance indices and 35-year population trends for 338 species of common macro-moths. Although the number of trap sites which run each year is not constant, there is a representative, well-distributed core of traps that have run for ≥ 15 years. The proportion of operating sites catching a species and the annual geometric mean catch of successful traps were used to provide estimates of species range and absolute abundance. T, an index of long-term population trends, was used to compare trends among species. T was not biased by trap site turnover. The percentage of species displaying significant decreases (54%) was more than double that displaying increases (22%). Species found throughout Great Britain are decreasing most rapidly in the south and especially the southeast but species with a southerly distribution are increasing. Results of a preliminary overview suggest habitat and climate change may both play a role in changing species dynamics. The existence of estimates of abundances and trends for such a large species pool opens the way for much further research, linking trends with land-use changes, climate change and inter-specific dynamics.

Abundance Lepidoptera Occupancy Population dynamics Population trends 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelvin F. Conrad
    • 1
  • Ian P. Woiwod
    • 1
  • Mark Parsons
    • 2
  • Richard Fox
    • 2
  • Martin S. Warren
    • 2
  1. 1.Rothamsted ResearchHarpendenUK
  2. 2.Butterfly ConservationManor YardEast LulworthUK

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