From: Liz Shaw, , More from this Affiliate
Published May 17, 2011 08:16 AM

In the News: British butterflies bounce back

Some of Britain's most threatened butterflies are showing promising signs of recovery after decades of decline, according to a new study. The new data comes from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which has been monitoring changes in butterfly populations across the United Kingdom since 1976. The biggest winner of 2010 was the wood white, which has suffered a 96% decline since the 1970s, but whose population increased six-fold last year.


The marsh fritillary, in serious decline since the 1950s, more than doubled its numbers between 2009 and 2010, and recent reports suggest that marsh fritillaries are also thriving so far in 2011.

Although Britain's butterflies remain in long-term decline, the populations of three-quarters of threatened species increased in 2010. This change in fortunes has been put down to targeted conservation action, combined with better weather last year after a series of disastrously wet summers. Butterfly experts hope that if Britain experiences a similar summer this year, some of the country's most threatened species could continue to make a significant recovery.

According to Dr Tom Brereton, Head of Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, "Over the last decade, Butterfly Conservation has developed a large number of landscape scale projects... to improve and restore habitats for threatened butterflies. This has particularly helped the marsh fritillary and more recently the wood white and some other species too are beginning to recover. It shows these projects are working, given time. This is extremely welcome news and shows that we can reverse butterfly losses if the effort can be maintained."

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