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Key Findings

The UKBMS provides a wealth of information on the trends and status of butterflies across the UK. We provide annual, 10-year and long-term (series) trends for 56 species which can be found in the species accounts and the summary tables (UK or Country level).

Trend analyses are also performed for groups of butterflies and these are used as biodiversity indicators. These trend analyses tell us which species are increasing or declining across the UK, and help inform conservation by identifying priority species and their responses to management over time (The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2011).

The UK and country trend indices and the indicators are classified as ‘Official Statistics’ and are produced to the high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, which sets out eight principles including meeting user needs, impartiality and objectivity, integrity, sound methods and assured quality, frankness and accessibility. More information on the Official Statistics Code of Practice can be found at http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html

In addition, the UKBMS data is widely used in research. Below are some of the recent highlights (since 2010) and a more extensive list of publications using data from the scheme is available here:

Butterflies and environmental change

Butterflies are a model taxon for studying the effects of environmental change, as demonstrated by large body of research results. Below are some of the recent highlights (since 2010) and a more extensive list of publications using data from the scheme is available here:

The UKBMS is constantly evolving. The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey is now a fully operational scheme, online recording is in place and new statistical techniques have been tried and tested to make use of more of the data collected and produce more accurate species indices.

The UKBMS is regarded as a gold standard with similar methods widely adopted across Europe. A recently published manual is helping new countries to develop butterfly monitoring. Van Swaay et al. (2012) in Manual for Butterfly Monitoring

UK and country-level indices are also used as biodiversity indicators. The indicators are split into wider countryside species and habitat specialists, and in England woodland and farmland butterflies are also assessed separately.

Butterfly data used to develop biodiversity indicators in the United Kingdom. Brereton et al. (2011) in Journal of Insect Conservation (doi: 10.1007/s10841-010-9333-z)

Survey launched to monitor butterflies in the wider countryside. Brereton et al. (2011) in Journal of Insect Conservation (doi: 10.1007/s10841-010-9345-8)

Power calculations for monitoring studies: a case study with alternative models for random variation. Elston et al. (2011) in Environmetrics (doi: 10.1002/env.1096)

Distance sampling and the challenge of monitoring butterfly populations. Isaac et al. (2011) in Methods in Ecology and Evolution (doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00109.x)

Indexing butterfly abundance whilst accounting for missing counts and variability in seasonal pattern Dennis et al. (2013) in Methods in Ecology and Evolution (doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12053)


The UKBMS is run by  Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), and supported and steered by Forestry Commission (FC),  Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The UKBMS is indebted to all volunteers who contribute data to the scheme.