Vermont Butterfly Big Year

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Kent McFarland

May 9, 2016, 4:07:53 PM5/9/16

With the help of an army of citizen scientists, the Vermont Butterfly Big Year, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, aims to record every species of butterfly in Vermont this year. It’s a blend of science, education, competition, enjoyment, and a quest to monitor the changing nature of the state. Climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, and other environmental concerns are altering the biological diversity of Vermont. And with your help, VCE is trying to understand what this means for butterflies.

VCE biologist Kent McFarland led a six-year atlas of butterfly diversity across Vermont, involving hundreds of volunteers and producing a landmark report for the state in 2007. The Vermont Butterfly Survey, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, established a baseline accounting of butterfly distribution and abundance throughout the state.

“It has been almost a decade since the atlas,” said McFarland. “Atlases are typically repeated every 25 years, so we won’t have another effort like that until around 2027. But with eButterfly making the task much easier, we thought it was time to get a quick, one-year snapshot across the state.”

The Vermont Butterfly Big Year aims to get volunteers of all kinds to search fields and fens, mountains and meadows, even their own backyards, to help document every species of butterfly in Vermont and in as many locations as possible. Digital cameras and eButterfly make this mission easier for volunteers and our biologists. A real-time, online checklist program, eButterfly provides a new way for everyone to report, organize, and access information about butterflies in Vermont and beyond. Launched in 2013, eButterfly provides rich data sources for basic information on butterfly abundance, distribution,and phenology.

Butterfly watchers have already reported 14 species of butterflies on eButterfly. We hope you'll complete checklists of butterflies all season long in Vermont and add them to eButterfly. Perhaps you have some old haunts you can resurvey where you visited during the butterfly atlas? Or maybe some new habitats you want to check out. Even those fluttering around your yard are fair game. Help us get a snapshot of Vermont butterflies this year!


Kent McFarland
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
PO Box 420 | Norwich, Vermont 05055
802.649.1431 x2

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