Vermont scientist contributes to butterfly tracking site

Screenshot of the website.

Screenshot of the website.

The net to catch butterfly data just got bigger.

Biologists from Canada and the U.S. on Monday launched an online butterfly tracking tool, The website aggregates crowd-sourced information gathered across North America into its free website.

“It’s one-stop shopping for both recreational butterfly watchers and scientists,” said Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who worked on the project.

McFarland said the online tool, which was modeled on a similar online bird-monitoring platform, relies on citizen scientists to do work that would otherwise be impossible for scientists.

Canadian tiger swallowtail. Photo by Bryan Pfeiffer

Canadian tiger swallowtail. Photo by Bryan Pfeiffer

“It relies on crowd-sourced data over a huge landscape,” he said.

The tool can be used for casual butterfly watching, but researchers also can use the mapping tool to study the early warnings of habitat degradation and the impacts of climate change.

The site was launched in Canada when scientists sought to understand the impacts of growth and climate change on butterfly populations.

University of Ottawa postdoctoral fellow Maxim Larrivée, now an entomologist at the Montreal Insectarium, and lab biologist Jeremy Kerr teamed up to develop the first iteration of the online database.

“e-Butterfly is the tool for any lepidopterist,” Larrivée said. “From beginners looking for help with butterfly identification to experts who may want to plan their outings based on what species are active on any date at any particular location.”

The website was relaunched Monday to cover the United States with the help of Oregon State University and other scientists.

“This will be an essential and wonderful opportunity for people to get involved in science, appreciate nature, and interact with and enjoy biodiversity,” said Kathleen Prudic, a research scientist at Oregon State, who collaborated on the project.

John Herrick

Comment Policy requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation. If you have questions or concerns about our commenting platform, please review our Commenting FAQ.

Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Vermont scientist contributes to butterfly tracking site"