Butterflies attract the attention of scientists and amateur naturalists alike, making them excellent
candidates for assessing the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Because butterflies have
complex life cycles and depend upon a variety of host plants, they are sensitive to forest disturbance
and climate change. “It is our duty to preserve and restore natural areas,not only because of their intrinsic value but also …to avoid the breakdown of the ecosystems on whichwe depend,” conclude the authors of a new book chapter. Co-author Yves Basset, coordinator of the Arthropod Initiative of the worldwide network of forest monitoring plots (CTFS/SIGEO), spearheads the development of
improved techniques to track the health of butterfly and moth populations in Panama, Thailand and
Papua New Guinea.Basset and colleagues have shown how simple“Pollard Walks,” counting the number of butterflies sighted along a trail segment, make it easy to compare the number of butterflies at different sites or at different times of the year, and thus to gauge the effectiveness of conservation and restoration projects and the effects of climate change.