Bias in butterfly distribution maps: the influence of hot spots and recorder's home range

R. L. H. Dennis*, C. D. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use data from the Mersey Valley zone (3 x 2 km area; N = 600 I ha squares) of the Greater Manchester butterfly atlas to investigate whether recorder visits are biased by access (viz. distance from recorder's home base) and by the locations of potential hot spots. In a multiple regression analysis, visits were found to correlate significantly both with distance from home base of the recorder and with the mean and maximum number of species found in squares. Sites close to the home base of the recorder were visited more frequently than those further afield and squares with more species were visited more frequently than those squares with fewer species. Visits were also made significantly more frequently to squares with greater numbers of butterfly resources (e.g. hostplants, nectar). Furthermore, recording is biased to and away from distinct land uses, which vary significantly in species richness. Reasons are given why these biases are to be expected at all scales. The message is that future distribution mapping should be based on rigorous sampling approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-77
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


  • bias recording
  • mapping
  • database
  • Lepidoptera

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