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:


*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.

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. 2019. Is the insect apocalypse upon us? How to find out. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108327

*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


*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.


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