the doldrums

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Mon Jun 25 14:36:57 EDT 2001

Dear butterfly counters,

The best widespread counting process I know of is the Butterfly Monitoring
Scheme used in England by Pollard and others. The idea is for one individual to
walk a fixed transect  every week throughout the flight season, April through
September, and only under good conditions during the middish day, recording
counts of each species.

Data from this scheme could be of real use for scientific purposes, including
estimating population growth rates, correlating growth rates with weather and
studying spatial correlation in popuation and growth rates.

The 4th of July counts birds or butterflies are of much less value
scientifically. Given the increasing use of the web to record and allow
interpersonal interactions between widespread, isolated scientists and
amateurs, we might hope (or even help) to create a monitoring scheme modeled on
the British model.

Do you brits have any major (or minor) complaints about the BMS? Any ideas from
My biggest disatisfaction is that the data are not publically available on the
web. Or is this happening somewhere? Ecological progress depends on more open
sharing of data, just as genetics depends on Genbank and such.

Patrick Foley

Ron Gatrelle wrote:

> Hank & Priscilla Brodkin wrote
> snip
> > As far as I know there has never been a mandate to conduct the 4th of
> > July counts on the 4th of July, especially in those parts of the country
> > where this is not appropriate.
> > To quote the guidelines:
> > "A count may be held earlier or later than this period [centered around
> > the 4th of July] if this is advantageous for counting butterflies in
> > that area and if the count is held held about this same time each year."
> Knowing we are dealing with brief (informationally incomplete) email
> messages here, I offer this comment on the above out of context bit.
> The problem with this "guideline" is found in the words/terms  "A count",
> "centered", "THE count".  This is still a mono _early July_ annual
> activity. There needs to be bi-annual counts in spring and fall. They need
> to be called the "Spring Count" and the "Fall Count". But this would screw
> up the entire public connectivity of this - we all go out about the same
> time and generate this huge report we can all read about the same time.
> Spring in Florida is February (except in the Keys when it is the end of May
> due to the rainy season that brings stuff out), in the North Carolina
> mountains it is April. Rather than editorializing I will just say this.
> What is it that is want to be done?  All get together and have a fun time?
> Or, conduct meaningful, scientifically oriented species surveys? If it is
> the latter then it will be more work than fun and totally uncoordinatable
> in calendar time. If the former, then the long weekend of the 4th is a good
> as  any for a get together for a hike to count the Buckeyes, Cabbage Whites
> and pretty swallowtails.
> In the climate that frequently prevails on line of missing peoples
> points -- I am not against counts. To the contrary, I am very much for
> them. I am calling for this counting to simply be done twice a year and at
> a local time when it really counts. On this issue I am totally on the side
> of the Lepidoptera not collectors, watchers, NABA, TILS or any one/thing
> else.  I also applaud those, like the Brodkins, who are doing it right.
> Ron
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