Similar to eBird, the ‘complete checklist‘ approach of eButterfly significantly increases the scientific value of each observation you share. Complete checklists allow you to collect abundance and information on co-occurring species while tallying effort (time and distance traveled), all at high spatial and temporal resolutions.
When combined and analyzed, these data enable us to build next-generation species distribution models that inform scientists on the movements of species range boundaries and areas of abundance across the landscape at an astounding level of temporal and spatial detail. It will help greatly with population monitoring and conservation decisions across the hemisphere. But we can’t do all of this without your help in gathering big butterfly data.
eButterfly has already been a source of discovery for several new species expanding their ranges far beyond what was previously known. From first records for the continent, like the Perched Saliana butterfly photographed and shared on eButterfly at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, Texas in 2016, to the first Quebec record for Long-tailed Skipper photographed by a visitor right in the Insectarium gardens in 2016–there are many new state and provincial species discovered by eButterfly users in North America. Expanding to Central America and the Caribbean will really accelerate the rate of new discoveries in those countries where there’s been a lack of reporting.
A peer-reviewed study by researchers at the University of Ottawa compared eButterfly data to professionally-collected observations to measure the extent of new distributional and regional species richness information that opportunistic citizen science generates. eButterfly contributed new distributional information for ~80% of butterfly species, with volunteers detecting species significantly earlier each year than professionals.
“This really speaks to the ability and power of eButterfly’s citizen science approach,” said lead author Peter Soroye.
Every time butterfly watchers raise binoculars and cameras to record a butterfly sighting, they collect important data. Recording the number, date, and location of each and every butterfly, no matter how common or rare, may seem trivial, even repetitive— but this detailed information can be invaluable to science and conservation. Butterflies act as early warning signals for habitat degradation, climate change, and other ecological forces. Citizen science programs like eButterfly allow volunteers to submit checklists from anywhere, and can quickly amass large volumes of both historic and current observations.
eButterfly is the tool for any butterfly enthusiast. You don’t have to be an expert to make a difference. Everyone can play a part, and it couldn’t be easier. Just log into eButterfly and contribute your butterfly discoveries!
Have a great butterfly watching year!