Over a century of data reveal more than 80% decline in butterflies in the Netherlands
Strien, Arco J. van; Swaay, Chris A.M. van; Strien-van Liempt, Willy T.F.H. van; Poot, Martin J.M. ; WallisDeVries, Michiel F. - \ 2019
Biological Conservation 234 (2019). - ISSN 0006-3207 - p. 116 - 122.
Bayesian inference - Distribution - JAGS - List length analysis - Living Planet Index - Monitoring
Opportunistic butterfly records from 1890 to 2017 were analysed to quantitatively estimate the overall long-term change in occurrence of butterfly species in the Netherlands. For 71 species, we assessed trends in the number of occupied 5 km × 5 km sites by applying a modified List Length method, which takes into account changes in observation effort. We summarised the species trends in a Multi-Species Indicator (MSI) by taking the geometric mean of the species indices. Between 1890–1930 and 1981–1990, the MSI decreased by 67%; downward trends were detected for 42 species, many of which have disappeared completely from the Netherlands. Monitoring count data available from 1992 showed a further 50% decline in MSI. Combined, this yields an estimated decline of 84% in 1890–2017. We argue that in reality the loss is likely even higher. We also assessed separate MSIs for three major butterfly habitat types in the Netherlands: grassland, woodland and heathland. Butterflies strongly declined in all three habitats alike. The trend has stabilised over recent decades in grassland and woodland, but the decline continues in heathland.