Moth trends paper now Open Access

Moth trends paper now Open Access


21 October 2014

Read the first assessment of GB macro-moth trends from the NMRS.

The first major analysis of data from the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS) has revealed an overall decline among Britain’s larger moths.

More than 10 million moth records were used to assess changes from 1970 to 2010. The study, carried out by scientists from Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and University of York, is the first to examine long-term trends for all of Britain’s resident larger moths.

Trends for 673 species were calculated, 62% of which showed a statistically significant change over the 40-year period. Two-thirds more species declined than increased (260 species decreased significantly versus 160 species that increased significantly).

Declines among widespread moths were most severe in southern Britain, where habitat loss to agricultural intensification and other land use changes has been greatest. The same widespread species showed no overall decline in northern Britain. In addition, moths associated with low nitrogen environments tended to fare badly, another indication of the negative impacts of land uses such as intensive agriculture.

In contrast, climate change appears to be a much more important driving force for moths that are restricted to warm or cold parts of Britain. Northern moths tended to decline, suggesting that the warming climate might be causing problems for these species adapted to cool conditions. But climate change also had some positive effects. Many moths at the northern limit of their range in southern Britain increased over time, most likely in response to warming temperatures.

Thanks to CEH the paper, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, is now Open Access so you can read it here