Butterflies are the best-known invertebrate group, yet there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of this group in the Maritimes. That gap is of increasing concern given that several Maritime butterfly species are, or may become, species of conservation concern. The Maritimes Butterfly Atlas, the first comprehensive and systematic survey of butterflies in our region, will start to fill this knowledge gap. By harnessing the combined efforts of conservation scientists and interested naturalists, this project will dramatically improve our understanding of the numbers, distribution, and status of butterflies in the Maritimes. That information will be especially valuable for assessing the conservation status of our butterfly species. It will help identify which are truly rare and which are more common but have been overlooked in the past. The Atlas will also produce a snapshot of butterfly populations in the Maritimes today and a baseline dataset for the future. It could become increasingly valuable, in the decades to come, as scientists examine the effects of climate change and other disturbances on the distribution and abundance of our native animal species.
The project, which began in the spring of 2010, is planned to extend to at least 2014. For the most part records will be submitted by naturalists like you, allowing anyone with an interest in butterflies, or natural history in general, to become a contributor to this important conservation effort. Data will be compiled in the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre database. That database currently provides the foundation for conservation decisions throughout the region, and improvements will only make that foundation stronger. Results will also be uploaded regularly to this blog, and over the course of the Atlas will be compiled into easily accessible distribution maps and species synopsis pages showing the most up-to-date and complete information on all Maritime butterfly species available anywhere.
Anyone interested in participating in the Atlas should contact the Atlas director, John Klymko, who looks forward to hearing from you.