types of butterfly counts

Barb Beck barb at birdnut.obtuse.com
Mon Jun 25 15:30:17 EDT 2001

Are the Pollard walks randomly assigned or just in areas where people like
to walk?  Around here people are just picking places that are convenient and
nice to walk.  We are trying to do one.

True they are very useful in getting precise information and very good data
on a very small area.  But are people covering areas which are not nice
areas to go for a butterfly walk in?   Are volunteers happy covering an area
with few butterflies or only very common butterflies week after week?

Yesterday at an Alberta count my husband and I did not count in the  very
interesting pine sand dunes natural area. We went out to  look at  the
agricultural land for the common much interesting butterflies of that area
just to get more of a picture of what is valuable in the circle.

Pollard walks also must have a path or it must at least be possible to walk
through the area.  Try some of our bogs we sample here on things like the
Darwell and Elk Island counts.

How are we to get people up to areas like the Cardinal Divide count circle
to do weekly counts?  That count had more species last year than any other
in Alberta.  This is a count in the Canadian Rockies on the OTHER
continental divide - that separating the water which goes to the Atlantic
Ocean from that which goes north to the Arctic. It would take not just one
person but many to repeatedly travel to that part of the province and
conduct counts in the wide variety of habitats (and elevations) that are
covered in that circle.

While much less precise at least the count circles encourage people to fully
cover or at least sample all of the habitats in the circles.

Comparing the information coming from these two sources is like comparing
apples and oranges.  Valuable information can be obtained from each if they
are properly reported and the forms of the butterfly reported to the limits
of the identification skills of the observers.

Barb Beck
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-leps-l at lists.yale.edu [mailto:owner-leps-l at lists.yale.edu]On
Behalf Of Patrick Foley
Sent: June 25, 2001 12:37 PM
To: Ron Gatrelle
Cc: Hank & Priscilla Brodkin; Leps-l; Carolina Leps
Subject: Re: the doldrums

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
walk a fixed transect  every week throughout the flight season, April
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,
estimating population growth rates, correlating growth rates with weather
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
the British model.

Do you brits have any major (or minor) complaints about the BMS? Any ideas
My biggest disatisfaction is that the data are not publically available on
web. Or is this happening somewhere? Ecological progress depends on more
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
> 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
> as  any for a get together for a hike to count the Buckeyes, Cabbage
> 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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