The status, ecology and conservation of butterflies in Europe and Britain are reviewed, as a background to the National Trust's past and future contribution to British conservation. Britain has a poor butterfly fauna by European standards, the main areas of endemism and species richness being in the Alps and southern Europe. To date, the main declines among European butterfly populations have occurred across central‐northern Europe, with slightly higher extinction rates in mainland countries than in Britain. The main causes of decline are biotope destruction, the loss of certain species' habitats within surviving semi‐natural biotopes due to changed land management, and a failure by several species to track the patches of their habitat that are still being generated in modern fragmented landscapes. Until recently, most conservation programmes failed to take account of the latter two factors, resulting in many local extinctions of rare butterfly species even in conservation areas. Recent measures have been much more successful; many were first tested on National Trust properties.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society – Oxford University Press
Published: Dec 1, 1995
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