Some of Britain’s most threatened butterflies are showing promising signs of recovery after decades of decline, according to a new study. The new data comes from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which has been monitoring changes in butterfly populations across the United Kingdom since 1976. The biggest winner of 2010 was the wood white, which has suffered a 96% decline since the 1970s, but whose population increased six-fold last year.
The marsh fritillary, in serious decline since the 1950s, more than doubled its numbers between 2009 and 2010, and recent reports suggest that marsh fritillaries are also thriving so far in 2011.
Although Britain’s butterflies remain in long-term decline, the populations of three-quarters of threatened species increased in 2010. This change in fortunes has been put down to targeted conservation action, combined with better weather last year after a series of disastrously wet summers. Butterfly experts hope that if Britain experiences a similar summer this year, some of the country’s most threatened species could continue to make a significant recovery.