Population trends of common British butterflies at monitored sites.

Published online
13 Apr 1995
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Pollard, E. & Moss, D. & Yates, T. J.

Publication language
UK & Great Britain


In recent decades, many of the common and widespread butterflies in Britain which do not already occupy the whole of the country have expanded in range. Surveys of 18 species showed that populations of the species which had expanded in range, monitored for varying periods during 1974-92 had, overall, shown significantly more increases than declines in abundance, as had the species with ranges which already occupied most of Britain. Nearly all of the common species had increased in abundance more in the east of Britain than in the west. Although the reasons for recent range expansions and increases in abundance of common butterflies are not known, it seems likely that changes in weather have played a role. It is argued that the geographical differences in population trends suggest that a factor (or factors) with a similar eastern bias is also implicated in the changes in abundance and perhaps of range. Some possible factors are discussed briefly.

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