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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Are neonicotinoid insecticides driving declines of widespread butterflies?
Authors: Gilburn, Andre
Bunnefeld, Nils
Wilson, John McVean
Botham, Marc S
Brereton, Tom M
Fox, Richard
Goulson, Dave
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Issue Date: 24-Nov-2015
Publisher: PeerJ
Citation: Gilburn A, Bunnefeld N, Wilson JM, Botham MS, Brereton TM, Fox R & Goulson D (2015) Are neonicotinoid insecticides driving declines of widespread butterflies?, PeerJ, 3, Art. No.: e1402.
Abstract: There has been widespread concern that neonicotinoid pesticides may be adversely impacting wild and managed bees for some years, but recently attention has shifted to examining broader effects they may be having on biodiversity. For example in the Netherlands, declines in insectivorous birds are positively associated with levels of neonicotinoid pollution in surface water. In England, the total abundance of widespread butterfly species declined by 58% on farmed land between 2000 and 2009 despite both a doubling in conservation spending in the UK, and predictions that climate change should benefit most species. Here we build models of the UK population indices from 1985 to 2012 for 17 widespread butterfly species that commonly occur at farmland sites. Of the factors we tested, three correlated significantly with butterfly populations. Summer temperature and the index for a species the previous year are both positively associated with butterfly indices. By contrast, the number of hectares of farmland where neonicotinoid pesticides are used is negatively associated with butterfly indices. Indices for 15 of the 17 species show negative associations with neonicotinoid usage. The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: © 2015 Gilburn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Affiliation: Biological and Environmental Sciences
Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Stirling (invalid)
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Butterfly Conservation Ltd
Butterfly Conservation Ltd
University of Sussex

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