Conservation action must be based on sound scientific evidence if it is to be effective. Butterfly Conservation undertakes scientific research in collaboration with universities and other organisations around the world in order to provide such evidence.

Our aim is always to publish such research in peer-reviewed journals and, where possible, to make these papers accessible to the public without charge (indicated by * in the publication list below). Much of our research is based upon data gathered through our world-leading recording and monitoring schemes.

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Science News is a biannual email newsletter exploring the wide range of science that Butterfly Conservation is involved with and explaining how we’re applying this to our conservation projects.

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Recent scientific publications:


MacDonald, M.A., Angell, R., Dines, T.D., Dodd, S., Haysom, K.A., Hobson, R., Johnstone, I.G., Matthews, V., Morris, A.J., Parry, R., Shellswell, C.H., Skates, J., Tordoff, G.M. & WilberforceE.M. 2019. Have Welsh agri‐environment schemes delivered for focal species? Results from a comprehensive monitoring programme. Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13329

Macgregor, C.J., Kitson, J.J.N., Fox, R., Hahn, C., Lunt, D.H., Pocock, M.J.O. & Evans, D.M. 2019. Construction, validation, and application of nocturnal pollen transport networks in an agro-ecosystem: a comparison using light microscopy and DNA metabarcoding. Ecological Entomology 44, 17-29. News story


Burns, F., Eaton, M.A., Hayhow, D.B., Outhwaite, C.L., Al Fulaij, N., August, T.A., Boughey, K.L., Brereton, T., Brown, A., Bullock, D.J., Gent, T., Haysom, K.A., Isaac, N. J.B., Johns, D.G., Macadam, C.R., Mathews, F., Noble, D.G., Powney, G.D., Sims, D.W., Smart, S.M., Stroh, P., Walker, K.J., Webb, J.R., Webb, T.J. & Gregory, R.D. 2018. An assessment of the state of nature in the United Kingdom: A review of findings, methods and impact. Ecological Indicators 94, 226-236.

*Fox, R., Harrower C.A., Bell, J.R., Shortall, C.R., Middlebrook, I. & Wilson, R.J. 2018. Insect population trends and the IUCN Red List process. Journal of Insect Conservation DOI: 10.1007/s10841-018-0117-1

Franks, S.E., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Atkinson, S., Bell, J.R., Botham, M.S., Brereton, T.M., Harrington, R. & Leech, D.I. 2018. The sensitivity of breeding songbirds to changes in seasonal timing is linked to population change but cannot be directly attributed to the effects of trophic asynchrony on productivityGlobal Change Biology 24, 957-971.

*Mason, S.C., Hill, J.K., Thomas, C.D., Powney, G.D., Fox, R., Brereton, T. & Oliver, T.H. 2018. Population variability in species can be deduced from opportunistic citizen science records: a case study using British butterfliesInsect Conservation and Diversity 11, 131-142. 

Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Baillie, S.R., Boughey K., Bourn, N.A.D, Foppen, R.P.B., Gillings, S., Gregory, R.D., Hunt, T., Jiguet, F., Lehikoinen, A., Musgrove, A.J., Robinson, R.A., Roy, D.B., Siriwardena, G.M., Walker, K.J. & Wilson, J.D. 2018. Overcoming the challenges of public data archiving for citizen science biodiversity recording and monitoring schemesJournal of Applied Ecology 55, 2544-2551.

*Pschera, J. & Warren, J.M. 2018. Microhabitat selection by ovipositing females and pre-diapause larvae of a Welsh population of Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Journal of Insect Conservation 22, 571-579.

Suggitt, A.J., Wilson, R.J., Isaac, N.J.B., Beale, C.M., Auffret, A.G., August, T., Bennie, J.J., Crick, H.Q.P., Duffield, S., Fox, R., Hopkins, J.J., Macgregor, N.A., Morecroft, M.D., Walker, K.J. & Maclean, I.M.D. 2018. Extinction risk from climate change is reduced by microclimatic buffering. Nature Climate Change 8, 713-717. News story


*De Palma, A., Dennis, R.L.H., Brereton, T., Leather, S.R. & Oliver, T.H. 2017. Large reorganizations in butterfly communities during an extreme weather eventEcography 40, 577-585.

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Brereton, T.M., Roy, D.B. & Fox, R. 2017. Using citizen science butterfly counts to predict species population trendsConservation Biology 31, 1350-1361. News story

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Freeman, S.N., Ridout, M.S., Brereton, T.M., Fox, R., Powney, G.D. & Roy, D.B. 2017. Efficient occupancy model-fitting for extensive citizen-science dataPLoS ONE 12, e0174433.

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Roy, D.B. & Brereton, T.M. 2017. Urban indicators for UK butterfliesEcological Indicators 76, 184-193. News story

*Dyer, R.J., Gillings, S.G., Pywell, R.F., Fox, R., Roy, D.B. & Oliver, T.H. 2017. Developing a biodiversity-based indicator for large-scale environmental assessment: a case study of proposed shale gas extraction sites in BritainJournal of Applied Ecology 54, 872-882. News story

Elston, D.A., Brewer, M.J., Martay, B., Johnston, A., Henrys, P.A., Bell, J.R., Harrington, R., Monteith, D., Brereton, T.M., Boughey, K.L. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W. 2017 A new approach to modelling the relationship between annual population abundance indices and weather data. Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics 22, 427-445.

*Macgregor, C.J., Evans, D.M., Fox, R. & Pocock, M.J.O. 2017. The dark side of street lighting: impacts on moths and evidence for the disruption of nocturnal pollen transportGlobal Change Biology 23, 697-707. News story

*Macgregor, C.J., Hoare, D.J., Parsons, M.S. & Lewis, O.T. 2017. Host-plant patch qualities and presence of a likely competitor species affect the distribution and abundance of a rare British moth, Cucullia lychnitisJournal of Insect Conservation 21, 137-146.

Martay, B., Brewer, M.J., Elston, D.A., Bell, J.R., Harrington, R., Brereton, T.M., Barlow, K.E., Botham, M.S. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W. 2017. Impacts of climate change on national biodiversity population trendsEcography 40, 1139-1151.

*McDermott Long, O., Warren, R., Price, J., Brereton, T.M., Botham, M.S. & Franco, A.M.A. 2017. Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk? Journal of Animal Ecology 86, 108-116. News story

*Mills, S.C., Oliver, T.H., Bradbury, R.B., Gregory, R.D., Brereton, T., Kühn, E., Kuussaari, M., Musche, M., Roy, D.B., Schmucki, R., Stefanescu, C., van Swaay, C. & Evans, K.L. 2017. European butterfly populations vary in sensitivity to weather across their geographical rangesGlobal Ecology and Biogeography 26, 1374-1385.

*Oliver, T.H., Gillings, S., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Brereton, T., Crick, H.Q.P., Duffield, S.J., Morecroft, M.D. & Roy, D.B. 2017. Large extents of intensive land use limit community reorganization during climate warmingGlobal Change Biology 23, 2272-2283. News story

*Palmer, G., Platts, P.J., Brereton, T., Chapman, J.W., Dytham, C., Fox, R., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Roy, D.B., Hill, J.K. & Thomas, C.D. 2017. Climate change, climatic variation and extreme biological responsesPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372, 20160144.

Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Beale, C.M., Oliver, T.H., August, T.A., Carroll, M., Massimino, D., Ockendon, N., Savage, J., Wheatley, C.J., Ausden, M.A., Bradbury, R.B., Duffield, S.J., Macgregor, N.A., McClean, C.J., Morecroft, M.D., Thomas, C.D., Watts, O., Beckmann, B.C., Fox, R., Roy, H.E., Sutton, P.G., Walker, K.J. & Crick, H.Q.P. 2017. A national-scale assessment of climate change impacts on species: assessing the balance of risks and opportunities for multiple taxaBiological Conservation 213, 124-134.

Pocock, M.J.O., Roy, H.E., Fox, R., Ellis, W.N. & Botham, M. 2017. Citizen science and invasive alien species: predicting the detection of the oak processionary moth Thaumetopoea processionea by moth recordersBiological Conservation 208, 146-154.

Stancă-Moise, C., Brereton, T. & Blaj, R. 2017. The control of the defoliator Lymantra monacha L. populations (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) by making use of pheromone traps in the forest range Miercurea Sibiului (Romania) in the period 2011-2015. Scientific Papers Series Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development 17, 327-331.

*Sullivan, M.J.P., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Newson, S.E., Scholefield, P., Brereton, T. & Oliver, T.H. 2017. A national-scale model of linear features improves predictions of farmland biodiversityJournal of Applied Ecology 54, 1776-1784.


*Baker, D., Barrett, S., Beale, C.M., Crawford, T.J., Ellis, S., Gullett, T., Mayhew, P.J., Parsons, M.S., Relf, P., Robertson, P., Small, J. & Wainwright, D. 2016. Decline of a rare moth at its last known English site: causes and lessons for conservationPLoS One 11, e0157423. News story

*Burns, F., Eaton, M.A., Barlow, K.E., Beckmann, B.C., Brereton, T., Brooks, D.R., Brown, P.M., Al Fulaij, N., Gent, T. & Henderson, I. 2016. Agricultural management and climatic change are the major drivers of biodiversity change in the UKPloS One 11, e0151595.

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J., Freeman, S.N., Brereton, T.M. & Roy, D.B. 2016. A generalized abundance index for seasonal invertebratesBiometrics 72, 1305-1314.

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J., Freeman, S.N., Roy, D.B. & Brereton, T. 2016. Dynamic models for longitudinal butterfly dataJournal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics 21, 1-21.

Martay, B., Monteith, D., Brewer, M., Brereton, T., Shortall, C. & Pearce-Higgins, J. 2016. An indicator highlights seasonal variation in the response of Lepidoptera communities to warmingEcological Indicators 68, 126-133.

Redhead, J.W., Fox, R., Brereton T. & Oliver, T.H. 2016. Assessing species’ habitat associations from occurrence records, standardised monitoring data and expert opinion: A test with British butterfliesEcological Indicators 62, 271-278.

*Schmucki, R., Pe'er, G., Roy, D.B., Stefanescu, C., Van Swaay, C.A.M., Oliver, T.H., Kuussaari, M., Van Strien, A.J., Ries, L., Settele, J., Musche, M., Carnicer, J., Schweiger, O., Brereton, T.M., Harpke, A., Heliölä, J., Kühn, E. & Julliard, R. 2016. A regionally informed abundance index for supporting integrative analyses across butterfly monitoring schemesJournal of Applied Ecology 53, 501-510.

Thackeray, S.J., Helaouet, P., Johns, D.G., Jones, I.D., Bacon, P.J., Brereton, T.M., Carvalho, L., Clutton-Brock, T.H., Duck, C., Edwards, M., Elliott, J.M., Hall, S.J.G., Harrington, R., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Pemberton, J.M., Sparks, T.H., Thompson, P.M., White, I., Winfield, I.J., Henrys, P.A., Hemming, D., Leech, D.I., Bell, J.R., Botham, M.S., Burthe, S., Mackay, E.B., Massimino, D., Høye, T.T., Kruuk, L.E.B., Wanless, S. & Atkinson, S. 2016. Phenological sensitivity to climate across taxa and trophic levelsNature 535, 241-245.


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