Butterfly monitoring in North America


Ries, Leslie


  • Oral




North America hosts several butterfly monitoring programs that have collected a vast amount of data, both by academic researchers and citizen-science volunteer networks. While these programs are not as well known as those in Europe, there are several well-established programs and both the number and types of efforts have expanded greatly over the past decade. The two longest-running programs include a continental-scale survey network started by the Xerces Society in 1975 and currently run by the North American Butterfly Association and also a program run by a single individual, Art Shapiro, who has collected bi-weekly transect counts at 11 locations in California since 1972. More recently, several states (including Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and Michigan) have initiated volunteer-based survey network patterned on those established in the UK. In addition to these programs, there are several monitoring operations focusing on one species – the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). These monarch-focused programs have greatly expanded the types of data normally collected by citizen-science projects. These include continent-wide monitoring efforts that track egg laying, juvenile development, parasitism rates, disease incidence, tagging and recovery, and migratory behavior. I will introduce all of these major butterfly monitoring programs and give a brief overview of the types of analyses that have been done using these data.