I have a vision for a butterfly web site that should be developed in the future. First, I have to point out that there are a lot of great butterfly sites now. One I really like shows all of the North American species and their ranges, as well as information about them. This is the Butterflies and Moths of North America site. So it has species information, but not really a lot of population information–which species is most common. It also lacks phenological information.
You get information about numbers and phenology by doing butterfly surveys called “Pollard transects.” What you do is you determine a route ahead of time, mark it on a map, then walk the route at a steady pace and identify and count all of the butterflies along your route that fall within a given distance.
So to get an idea how to do that, you could look at the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network. Same idea, only spread it out nationally. And we need to monitor urban spaces, not just nature preserves. The next horizon of butterfly conservation is how we protect, preserve, and encourage butterfly conservation in the places people live and work.
So it would be citizen science, maybe with a training program and political action activities. I think that some of the biggest opportunities for butterfly conservation involve construction of storm water retention basins and open storm water structures. There are chances for citizens to involve themselves in planning processes that will have a big impact on conservation not just of butterflies, but of native vegetation, fireflies, odonates, birds, and other life forms.
What do you folks think? How would a web site be structured? How would the organization be structured? Could we get people involved?
Just looking for ideas….