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:

Open access papers are marked with * 


Montgomery, G.A., Dunn, R.R., Fox, R., Jongejans, E., Leather, S.R., Saunders, M.E., Shortall, C.R., Tingley, M.W. & Wagner, D.L. 2020. Is the insect apocalypse upon us? How to find out. Biological Conservation 241, 108327.


*Banza, P., Macgregor, C.J., Belo, A.D.F., Fox, R., Pocock, M.J.O. & Evans, D.M. 2019. Wildfire alters the structure and seasonal dynamics of Mediterranean nocturnal pollen transport networks. Functional Ecology 33, 1882-1892.

*Bell, J.R., Botham, M.S., Henrys, P.A., Leech, D.I., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Shortall, C.R., Brereton, T.M., Pickup, J. & Thackeray, S.J. 2019. Spatial and habitat variation in aphid, butterfly, moth and bird phenologies over the last half century. Global Change Biology 25, 1982-1994.

*Boyes, D.H., Fox, R., Shortall, C.R. & Whittaker R.J. 2019. Bucking the trend: the diversity of Anthropocene ‘winners’ among British moths. Frontiers of Biogeography 11, e43862.

*Dennis, E.B., Brereton, T.M., Morgan, B.J.T., Fox, R., Shortall, C.R., Prescott, T. & Foster, S. 2019. Trends and indicators for quantifying moth abundance and occupancy in Scotland. Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 369-380.

*Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Fox, R., Roy, D.B. & Brereton, T.M. 2019. Functional data analysis of multi-species abundance and occupancy data sets. Ecological Indicators 104, 156-165.

*Ellis, S., Wainwright, D., Dennis, E.B., Bourn, N.A.D., Bulman, C.R., Hobson, R., Jones, R., Middlebrook, I., Plackett, J., Smith, R.G., Wain, M. & Warren, M.S. 2019. Are habitat changes driving the decline of the UK’s most threatened butterfly: the High Brown Fritillary Argynnis adippe (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)? Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 351-367.

*Fox, R., Bourn, N.A.D., Dennis, E.B., Heafield, R.T, Maclean, I.M.D. & Wilson, R.J. 2019. Opinions of citizen scientists on open access to UK butterfly and moth occurrence data. Biodiversity and Conservation 28, 3321-3341.

*Fox, R., Harrower C.A., Bell, J.R., Shortall, C.R., Middlebrook, I. & Wilson, R.J. 2019. Insect population trends and the IUCN Red List process. Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 269-278. News story

*Greenwell, M.P., Brereton, T., Day, J.C., Roy, D.B. & Oliver, T.H. 2019. Predicting resilience of ecosystem functioning from co‐varying species' responses to environmental change. Ecology and Evolution 9, 11775-11790.

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 56, 812-823.

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

*Macgregor, C.J., Pocock, M.J.O., Fox, R. & Evans, D.M. 2019. Effects of street lighting technologies on the success and quality of pollination in a nocturnally pollinated plant. Ecosphere 10, e02550.

*Macgregor, C.J., Thomas, C.D., Roy, D.B., Beaumont, M.A., Bell, J.R., Brereton, T., Bridle, J.R., Dytham, C., Fox, R., Gotthard, K., Hoffmann, A.A., Martin, G., Middlebrook, I., Nylin, S., Platts, P.J., Rasteiro, R., Saccheri, I.J., Villoutreix, R., Wheat, C.W. & Hill, J.K. 2019. Climate-induced phenology shifts linked to range expansions in species with multiple reproductive cycles per year. Nature Communications 10, 4455. News story

Maes, D., Ellis, S., Goffart, K.L., Cruickshanks, K.L., van Swaay, C.A.M., Cors, R., Herremans, M., Swinnen, K.R.R., Wils, C., Verhulst, S., De Bruyn, L., Matthysen, E., O’Riordan, S., Hoare, D.J. & Bourn, N.A.D. 2019. The potential of species distribution modelling for reintroduction projects: the case study of the Chequered Skipper in England. Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 419-431.

Maes, D., Verovnik, R., Wiemers, M., Brosens, D., Beshkov, S., Bonelli, S., Buszko, J., Cantú‑Salazar, L., Cassar, L-F., Collins, S., Dincă, V., Djuric, M., Dušej, G., Elven, H., Franeta, F., Garcia‑Pereira, P., Geryak, Y., Goffart, P., Gór, A., Hiermann, U., Höttinger, H., Huemer, P., Jakšić, P., John, E., Kalivoda, H., Kati, V., Kirkland, P., Komac, B., Kőrösi, A., Kulak, A., Kuussaari, M., L’Hoste, L., Lelo, S., Mestdagh, X., Micevski, N., Mihoci, I., Mihut, S., Monasterio‑León, Y., Morgun, D.V., Munguira, M.L., Murray, T., Stadel Nielsen, P., Ólafsson, E., Õunap, E., Pamperis, L.N., Pavlíčko, A., Pettersson, L.B., Popov, S., Popović, M., Pöyry, J., Prentice, M., Reyserhove, L., Ryrholm, N., Šašić, M., Savenkov, N., Settele, J., Sielezniew, M., Sinev, S., Stefanescu, C., Švitra, G., Tammaru, T., Tiitsaar, A., Tzirkalli, E., Tzortzakaki, O., van Swaay, C.A.M., Lykke Viborg, A., Wynhoff, I.,Zografou, K. & Warren, M.S. 2019. Integrating national Red Lists for prioritising conservation actions for European butterflies. Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 301-330.

*Maskell, L.C., Botham, M., Henrys, P., Jarvis, S., Maxwell, D., Robinson, D.A., Rowland, C.S., Siriwardena, G., Smart, S., Skates, J., Tebbs, E.J., Tordoff, G.M. & Emmett, B.A. 2019. Exploring relationships between land-use intensity, habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity to identify and monitor areas of High Nature Value farming. Biological Conservation 231, 30-38.

Middlebrook, I., Hardy, P.B., Botham, M.S. & Dennis R.L.H. 2019. The importance of unique populations for conservation: the case of the Great Orme’s Head grayling butterfly Hipparchia semele (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae). Journal of Insect Conservation 23, 381-391.

*Norberg, A., Abrego, N.,  Blanchet, F.G., Adler, F.R., Anderson, B.J., Anttila, J., Araújo, M.B., Dallas, T., Dunson, D., Elith, J., Foster, S.D., Fox, R., Franklin, J., Godsoe, W., Guisan, A., O’Hara, B., Hill, N.A., Holt, R.D., Hui, F.K.C., Husby, M., Kålås, J.A., Lehikoinen, A., Luoto, M., Mod, H.K., Newell, G., Renner, I., Roslin, T., Soininen, J., Thuiller, W., Vanhatalo, J., Warton, D., White, M.,  Zimmermann, N.E., Gravel, D. & Ovaskainen, O. 2019. A comprehensive evaluation of predictive performance of 33 species distribution models at species and community levels. Ecological Monographs 89, e01370.

*Outhwaite, C.L., Powney, G.D., August, T.A., Chandler, R.E., Rorke, S., Pescott, O.L., Harvey, M., Roy, H.E., Fox, R., Roy, D.B., Alexander, K., Ball, S., Bantock, T., Barber, T., Beckmann, B.C., Cook, T., Flanagan, J., Fowles, A., Hammond, P., Harvey, P., Hepper, D., Hubble, D., Kramer, J., Lee, P., MacAdam, C., Morris, R., Norris, A., Palmer, S., Plant, C.W., Simkin, J., Stubbs, A., Sutton, P., Telfer, M., Wallace, I. & Isaac, N.J.B. 2019. Annual estimates of occupancy of bryophytes, lichens and invertebrates in the UK, 1970–2015. Scientific Data 6, 259.

Pellissier, V., Schmucki, R., Pe'er, G., Aunins, A., Brereton, T., Brotons, L., Carnicer, J., Chodkiewicz, T., Chylarecki, P., del Moral, J., Escandell, V., Evans, D., Foppen, R., Harpke, A., Heliölä, J., Herrando, S., Kuussaari, M., Kühn, E., Lehikoinen, A., Lindström, Å., Moshøj, C., Musche, M., Noble, D., Oliver, T., Reif, J., Richard, D., Roy, D., Schweiger, O., Settele, J., Stefanescu, C., Teufelbauer, N., Touroult, J., Trautmann, S., van Strien, A., van Swaay, C., van Turnhout, C., Vermouzek, Z., Voříšek, P., Jiguet, F. & Julliard, R. 2019. Effects of Natura 2000 on nontarget bird and butterfly species based on citizen science data. Conservation Biology. DOI:10.1111/cobi.13434

*Platts, P.J., Mason, S.C., Palmer, G., Hill, J.K., Oliver, T.H., Powney, G.D., Fox, R. & Thomas, C.D. 2019. Habitat availability explains variation in climate-driven range shifts across multiple taxonomic groups. Scientific Reports 9, 15039. 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.

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

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