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Keywords:

  • butterflies;
  • distribution-recording;
  • historic data;
  • monitoring;
  • prediction;
  • range-fluctuations

Abstract

Historical records (1900–66) from the Lepidoptera Recording Scheme were used to examine associations with weather for three butterfly species Ladoga Camilla, Celastrina argiolus and Nymphalis polychloros. For each species, a series of equations was examined in which the number of records per year was considered to be a function of (1) the number of records in the previous year and (2) temperature or rainfall in the months leading up to the current flight-period. Significant associations with weather were found for all species. Further multiple regression equations were obtained, using a stepwise procedure to select weather variables contributing separately to annual variation in the number of records. For L. Camilla and C. argiolus, predictions from these equations were significantly correlated with data on changes in abundance for the later period 1976–91. No recent data exist for JV. polychloros, which is now very rare, or possibly extinct, in Britain. Similar historic data are available for other butterfly species and for other taxa. It is suggested that these types of data have potential for the study, and perhaps prediction, of some effects of climate change.