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.

Recent scientific publications:

Open access papers are marked with * 


Bourn, N.A.D., O’Riordan, S., Maes, D., Goffart, P., Shadbolt, T., Hordley, L., Sainsbury, A.W., Bulman, C., Hoare, D., Field, R., Curson, J., Wildman, J.P., Halford, G., Jaffe, J., Donald, H., Van Eenaeme, D. & Ellis, S. 2024. The history, science and preliminary results from the reintroduction of the Chequered Skipper, Carterocephalus palaemon into Rockingham Forest, England. Journal of Insect Conservation DOI:10.1007/s10841-024-00601-3

*Butler, C.W., Hamlin, I., Richardson, M., Lowe, M. & Fox, R. 2024. Connection for conservation: The impact of counting butterflies on nature connectedness and wellbeing in citizen scientists. Biological Conservation 292, 110497. News story

*Cook, P., Law, A., Pattison, Z., WallisDeVries, M.F. & Willby, N.J. 2024. Invertebrate responses to rewilding: a monitoring framework for practitioners. Restoration Ecology e14195.

Cooper, J.E.J., Plummer, K.E., Middlebrook, I. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2024. Using butterfly survey data to model habitat associations in urban developments. Journal of Applied Ecology 61, 773-783.

Halford, G., Bulman, C.R., Bourn, N., Maes, D., Harpke, A. & Hodgson, J.A. 2024. Can species distribution models using remotely sensed variables inform reintroductions? Trialling methods with Carterocephalus palaemon the Chequered Skipper Butterfly. Journal of Insect Conservation DOI:10.1007/s10841-024-00555-6

*Hickinbotham, E.J., Pattison, Z., Fox, R. & Rushton, S.P. 2024. Drivers of moth phenology in England and Wales. Journal of Insect Conservation DOI:10.1007/s10841-024-00578-z

Hordley, L.A. & Fox, R. 2024. Wildlife-friendly garden practices increase butterfly abundance and species richness in urban and arable landscapes. Science of the Total Environment 929, 171503 News story

*Montràs-Janer, T., Suggitt, A.J., Fox, R., Jönsson, M., Martay, B., Roy, D.B., Walker, K.J. & Auffret, A.G. 2024. Anthropogenic climate and land-use change drive short- and long-term biodiversity shifts across taxa. Nature Ecology and Evolution 8, 739-751.

*Powell, K.E., Oliver, T.H., González-Suárez, M., Botham, M.S., Harrower, C.A., Comont, R.F., Middlebrook, I. & Roy, D.B. 2024. Asynchrony in terrestrial insect abundance corresponds with species traits. Ecology and Evolution 14, e10910

Wildman, J.P., Ollerton, J., Bourn, N.A., O’Riordan, S. & McCollin, D. 2024. Using photographic mark-recapture to estimate population size, movement, and lifespan of a reintroduced butterfly. Biodiversity and Conservation 33, 2011-2036.


Cook, P., Alder, D., Hordley, L., Newson, S.E. & Pengelly, D. 2023. Seeing the wood for the trees, irregular silviculture supports bat populations in conifer plantations. Forest Ecology and Management 544, 121214. News story

*Diana, A., Dennis, E.B., Matechou, E. & Morgan, B.J.T. 2023. Fast Bayesian inference for large occupancy datasets. Biometrics 79, 2503-2515.

*Hordley, L.A., Fox, R., Suggitt, A.J. & Bourn, N.A.D. 2023. Precipitation buffers temperature-driven local extinctions of moths at warm range margins. Ecology Letters 26, 805-815. News story

*Johnston, A., Matechou, E. & Dennis, E.B. 2023. Outstanding challenges and future directions for biodiversity monitoring using citizen science data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 14, 103-116.

*Jones, R., Bourn, N.A.D., Maclean, I.M.D. & Wilson, R.J. 2023. Landscape-scale dynamics of a threatened species respond to local-scale conservation management. Oikos e09334.

*Jones, R., Wilson, R.J., Bourn, N.A.D. & Maclean, I.M.D. 2023. Patchy range retractions in response to climate change and implications for terrestrial species conservation. Landscape Ecology 38, 3003-3025.

*Plummer, K.E., Dadam, D., Brereton, T., Dennis, E.B., Massimino, D., Risely, K., Siriwardena, G.M. & Toms, M.P. 2023. Trends in butterfly populations in UK gardens – New evidence from citizen science monitoring. Insect Conservation and Diversity 17, 345-357. News story

*Pocock, M.J.O., Logie, M., Isaac, N.J.B., Fox, R. & August, T. 2023. The recording behaviour of field-based citizen scientists and its impact on biodiversity trend analysis. Ecological Indicators 151, 110276.

*Suggitt, A.J., Wheatley, C.J., Aucott, P., Beale, C.M., Fox, R., Hill, J.K., Isaac, N.J.B., Martay, B., Southall, H., Thomas, C.D., Walker, K.J. & Auffret, A.G. 2023. Linking climate warming and land conversion to species’ range changes across Great Britain. Nature Communications 14, 6759. News story


*Alison, J., Botham, M., Maskell, L.C., Garbutt, A., Seaton, F.M., Skates, J., Smart, S.M., Thomas, A.R.C., Tordoff, G., Williams, B. L., Wood, C.M. & Emmett, B.A. 2022. Woodland, cropland and hedgerows promote pollinator abundance in intensive grassland landscapes, with saturating benefits of flower cover. Journal of Applied Ecology 59, 342-354. News story

*Cook, P.M., Tordoff, G.M., Davis, T.M., Parsons, M.S., Dennis, E.B., Fox, R., Botham, M.S. & Bourn, N.A. 2022. Traits data for the butterflies and macro‐moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Ecology 103, e3670. News story

*Dennis, E.B., Fagard-Jenkin, C. & Morgan, B.J.T. 2022. rGAI: An R package for fitting the generalized abundance index to seasonal count data. Ecology and Evolution 12, e9200.

*Downey, H., Bretagnolle, V., Brick, C., Bulman, C.R., Cooke, S.J., Dean, M., Edmonds, B., Frick, W.F., Friedman, K., McNicol, C., Nichols, C., Herbert, S., O’Brien, D., Ockendon, N., Petrovan, S., Stroud, D., White, T.B., Worthington, T.A. & Sutherland, W.J. 2022. Principles for the production of evidence-based guidance for conservation actions. Conservation Science and Practice e12663.

Fox, R., Dennis, E.B., Brown, A. & Curson, J. 2022. A revised Red List of British butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity 15, 485-495. News story

Hetherington, M., Sterling, P. & Coulthard, E. 2022. Butterfly colonisation of a new chalkland road cutting. Insect Conservation and Diversity 15, 191-199. News story

*Hodgson, J.A., Randle, Z., Shortall, C.R. & Oliver, T.H. 2022. Where and why are species' range shifts hampered by unsuitable landscapes? Global Change Biology 28, 4765-4774. News story

Hordley, L.A., Powney, G.D., Brereton, T., Gillings, S., Petchey, O.L., Roy, D.B., Tobias, J.A., Williams, J. & Oliver, T.H. 2022. Developing a national indicator of functional connectivity. Ecological Indicators 136, 108610. News story

*Redhead, J.W., Hinsley, S.A., Botham, M.S., Broughton, R.K., Freeman, S.N., Bellamy, P.E., Siriwardena, G., Randle, Z., Nowakowski, M., Heard, M.S. & Pywell, R.F. 2022. The effects of a decade of agri-environment intervention in a lowland farm landscape on population trends of birds and butterflies. Journal of Applied Ecology 59, 2486-2496.

*Stewart, L.B., Bonsall, M.B., Cusworth, G., Corrigan, C., Dicks, L.V., Hall, J., Plackett, J., Spray, M. & Strevens, C. 2022. Navigating a shifting agri-environment policy landscape to conserve butterflies. Conservation Science and Practice, e12795.

*Tinsley-Marshall, P., Downey, H. Adum, G., Al-Fulaij, N., Bourn, N.A.D., Brotherton, P.N.M., Frick, W.F., Hancock, M.H., Hellon, J., Hudson, M.A., Kortland, K., Mastro, K., McNicol, C.M., McPherson, T., Mickleburgh, S., Moss, J.F., Nichols, C.P., O'Brien, D., Ockendon, N., Paterson, S., Parks, D., Pimm, S.L., Schofield, H., Simkins, A.T., Watuwa, J., Wormald, K., Wilkinson, J., Wilson, J.D. and Sutherland, W.J. 2022. Funding and delivering the routine testing of management interventions to improve conservation effectiveness. Journal for Nature Conservation 67, 126184.

Tordoff, G.M., Dennis, E.B., Fox, R., Cook, P.M., Davis, T.M., Blumgart, D. & Bourn, N.A.D. 2022. Inconsistent results of trait-based analysis analyses of moth trends point to complex drivers of change. Biodiversity and Conservation 31, 2999-3018. News story

Wildman, J.P., Ollerton, J., Bourn, N.A.D., Brereton, T.M., Moore, J.L. & McCollin, D. 2022. The value of museum and other uncollated data in reconstructing the decline of the chequered skipper butterfly Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771). Journal of Natural Science Collections 10, 31-44.



*Bell, F., Botham, M., Brereton, T.M., Fenton, A. & Hodgson, J. 2021. Grizzled Skippers stuck in the south: Population‐level responses of an early‐successional specialist butterfly to climate across its UK range over 40 years. Diversity and Distributions 27, 962-972. News story

*Boyes, D.H., Evans, D.M., Fox, R., Parsons, M.S. & Pocock, M.J.O. 2021. Is light pollution driving moth population declines? A review of causal mechanisms across the life cycle. Insect Conservation and Diversity 14, 167-187.

*Boyes, D.H., Evans, D.M., Fox, R., Parsons, M.S. & Pocock, M.J.O. 2021. Street lighting has detrimental impacts on local insect populations. Science Advances 7, eabi8322. News story

*Breeze, T.D., Bailey, A.P., Balcombe, K.G., Brereton, T., Comont, R., Edwards, M., Garratt, M.P., Harvey, M., Hawes, C., Isaac, N., Jitlal, M., Jones, C.M., Kunin, W.E., Lee, P., Morris, R.K.A., Musgrove, A., O'Connor, R.S., Peyton, J., Potts, S.G., Roberts, S.P.M., Roy, D.B., Roy, H.E., Tang, C.Q., Vanbergen, A.J. & Carvell, C. 2021. Pollinator monitoring more than pays for itself. Journal of Applied Ecology 58, 44-57.

Dennis, E.B., Kéry, M., Morgan, B.J., Coray, A., Schaub, M. & Baur, B. 2021. Integrated modeling of insect population dynamics at two temporal scales. Ecological Modelling 441, 109408.

*Freeman, S.N., Isaac, N.J.B., Besbeas, P., Dennis, E.B. & Morgan, B.J.T. 2021. A generic method for estimating and smoothing multispecies biodiversity indicators using intermittent dataJournal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics 26, 71-89.

*Greenwell, M.P., Botham, M.S., Bruford, M.W., Day, J.C., Evans, L.C., Gibbs, M., Middlebrook, I., Roy, D.B., Watts, K. & Oliver, T.H. 2021. The influence of chalk grasslands on butterfly phenology and ecology. Ecology and Evolution 11,14521-14539.

*Lobo, J.M., Gutiérrez-Cánovas, C., Fox, R., Dennis, R.L.H. & Sánchez-Fernández, D. 2021. Species traits influence the process of biodiversity inventorying: a case study using the British butterfly database. Insect Conservation and Diversity 14, 748-755.

Macgregor, C.J., Bunting, M.J., Deutz, P., Bourn, N.A., Roy, D.B. & Mayes, W.M. 2021. Brownfield sites promote biodiversity at a landscape scale. Science of The Total Environment 804, 150162. News story

Sánchez-Fernández, D., Fox, R., Dennis, R.L.H. & Lobo, J.M. 2021. How complete are insect inventories? An assessment of the British butterfly database highlighting the influence of dynamic distribution shifts on sampling completeness. Biodiversity and Conservation 30, 889-902.

Wagner, D.L., Fox, R., Salcido, D.M. & Dyer, L.A. 2021. A window to the world of global insect declines: moth biodiversity trends are complex and heterogeneous. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, e2002549117. News story

Warren, M.S., Maes, D., van Swaay, C.A.M., Goffart, P., Van Dyck, H., Bourn, N.A.D., Wynhoff, I., Hoare, D. & Ellis, S. 2021. The decline of butterflies in Europe: Problems, significance, and possible solutions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, e2002551117. News story

Wilson, R.J. & Fox, R. 2021. Insect responses to global change offer signposts for biodiversity and conservation. Ecological Entomology 46, 699-717.

*Wood, C.M., Alison, J., Botham, M.S., Burden, A., Edwards, F., Garbutt, R.A., George, P.B.L., Henrys, P.A., Hobson, R., Jarvis, S., Keenan, P., Keith, A.M., Lebron, I., Maskell, L.C., Norton, L.R., Robinson, D.A., Seaton, F.M., Scarlett, P., Siriwardena, G.M., Skates, J., Smart, S.M., Williams, B. & Emmett, B.A. 2021. Integrated ecological monitoring in Wales: the Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme field survey. Earth System Science Data 13, 4155-4173.

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Scientific publications 2011-2015

Scientific publications 2006-2010

Scientific publications 2000-2005

Scientific publications 1995-1999