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The European Grassland Butterfly Indicator: 1990–2011

  • Chris van Swaay
  • Arco van Strien
  • Alexander Harpke
  • Benoît Fontaine
  • Constantí Stefanescu
  • David Roy
  • Elisabeth Kühn
  • Erki Õnuao
  • Eugenie Regan
  • Giedrius Švitra
  • Igor Prokofev
  • Janne Heliölä
  • Josef Settele
  • Lars Pettersson
  • Marc Botham
  • Martin Musche
  • Nicolas Titeux
  • Nina Cornish
  • Patrick Leopold
  • Romain Juillard
  • Rudi Verovnik
  • Sandra Öberg
  • Sergey Popov
  • Sue Collins
  • Svetlana Goloschchapova
  • Tobias Roth
  • Tom Brereton
  • Martin Warren
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Publication/Series: EEA Technical Reports
Volume: 11/2013
Document type: Report
Publisher: European Environment Agency

Abstract english

This report presents the European Grassland Butterfly Indicator, based on national Butterfly Monitoring Schemes (BMS) in 19 countries across Europe, most of them in the European Union.

The indicator shows that since 1990 till 2011 butterfly populations have declined by almost

50 %, indicating a dramatic loss of grassland biodiversity. This also means the situation has not improved since the first version of the indicator published in 2005.

Of the 17 species, 8 have declined in Europe, 2 have remained stable and 1 increased. For six species the trend is uncertain.

The main driver behind the decline of grassland butterflies is the change in rural land use: agricultural intensification where the land is relatively flat and easy to cultivate, and abandonment in mountains and wet areas, mainly in eastern and southern Europe.

Agricultural intensification leads to uniform, almost sterile grasslands for biodiversity. Grassland butterflies thus mainly survive in traditionally farmed low‑input systems (High Nature Value (HNV) Farmland) as well as nature reserves, and on marginal land such as road verges and amenity areas.


  • Ecology


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1725-2237
Lars B. Pettersson
E-mail: lars [dot] pettersson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 38 18

+46 70 611 63 45



Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden