The Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) was widespread across the Irish countryside. Over the last 10 years it appears to have been lost from may areas, so where can it be found now? The Butterfly Atlas 2021 aims to find out. (Photo: Mary Mahony, 06/06/2015)

Our monitoring schemes are excellent at identifying changes in butterfly populations, but they can’t effectively tell us about where different species are now found across the island of Ireland and how this has also changed. It’s these questions the Butterfly Atlas 2021 aims to answer.

Running from 2017 to 2021, the Butterfly Atlas will bring together information from all our butterfly recording activities into one overarching project to map where butterflies currently exist in the Irish landscape. The atlas is being run on an all-island basis in co-ordination with our partner organisations: Butterfly Conservation Ireland, Butterfly Conservation UK and the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording; supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Checkerboard design of high- and low-priority squares to be targetted for recording in the Butterfly Atlas 2021

 

How can I get involved?

It’s really easy to support the atlas – whenever you see a butterfly and know what it is, please submit the record to us here:

http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/

If you need help identifying a butterfly, please see our Ireland’s Butterflies page or email us a photo at butterflies@biodiversityireland.ie

If you’re already involved with one of our monitoring schemes then thank you (!) and keep going as you are already making a valuable contribution to the atlas. In addition, we’ve adopted a ‘checkerboard’ design to help evenly spread recording effort across the island of Ireland consisting of high- and low-priority 10 km2 squares. Over the next five years we need your help in recording butterflies in these squares, but how you survey in each 10 km2 depends on whether it’s a high- or low-priority square. For more information, please see our Get Involved section.
 

What will this information be used for?

As with all our recording schemes, we aim to provide the highest quality information to conserve Ireland’s butterflies. The atlas aims to identify where our butterfly species currently are and the size of their populations. Without this information, it would simply be impossible to effectively plan and target actions to conserve these species. The two high profile outputs from the project will be the publication of the atlas and an updated formal conservation assessment (IUCN Red List Assessment of Ireland’s Butterflies) following soon after. All records collected in the Republic of Ireland will be made freely available under an Open Data licence. Some current examples of the use of the Data Centre’s butterfly records include:

  1. The Butterfly Population Index is a National Biodiversity Indicator arising directly from our monitoring schemes (http://indicators.biodiversityireland.ie/index.php?qt=si&id=26).
  2. Community groups and non-governmental organisations map our butterfly records to inform and track their recording and conservation activities (http://www.ipcc.ie/a-to-z-peatlands/marsh-fritillary-butterfly/)
  3. Local and national government organisations have access to our butterfly records to inform planning and conservation management (http://maps.biodiversityireland.ie/).
  4. The European Grassland Butterfly indicator and the Phenology of Animal Species climate change indicator of the European Environment Agency (http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/daviz/european-grassland-butterfly-indicator-1#tab-chart_4).
  5. Scientists in University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast studying the impact of climate change and land-use on the resilience of animals and plant communities (http://www.ucd.ie/ecomodel/resilience.html).
  6. Scientists in the University of Bern studying how climate and landscape changes are how butterflies like the Red Admiral migrate across Europe (https://insectmigration.wordpress.com/red-admiral-migration/).
  7. A team of 22 European scientists from across 17 countries investigating which aspects of butterfly biology (e.g. wing span, number of generations per year, diet breadth) make them vulnerable to climate change, landscape change or both and the consequences for effective butterfly conservation (https://www.idiv.de/?id=430).