What is eButterfly and how does it work?

Created by Jason Loomis, Modified on Mon, 01 May 2023 at 04:15 PM by e-butterfly agent

What is eButterfly?

eButterfly is a real-time, online butterfly checklist and photo repository. It provides a new way for the butterfly-watching community to report, organize, and access information about butterflies from Central America and the Caribbean north across the Arctic. Launched in 2011 in Canada, eButterfly provides rich data sources for basic information on butterfly abundance, distribution, and phenology at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

eButterfly is maximizing the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of butterfly observations, photographs, and collections made each year by recreational and professional butterfly enthusiasts. With your help, we are gathering the largest butterfly checklist database in the region which will help inform our understanding of ecological and agricultural systems across the hemisphere. Through time, each participant and each checklist they submit, verified by regional experts, builds big data. eButterfly then shares this treasure trove of butterfly data with a global community of citizen scientists, educators, biologists, conservationists, and land managers. In time, this information will become the foundation for a better understanding of butterfly distribution and population trends.

How does eButterfly work?

eButterfly documents the presence or absence of species, as well as abundance. A web-interface engages participants to submit their butterfly observations through three interactive steps. Where did you observe them? How and when did you observe them? And, what species and how many did you observe? eButterfly encourages users to repeatedly participate by providing tools to maintain their life lists and photo records as well as providing ways to visualize data with maps, tables, graphs, and bar charts. All these features are currently available in English and French with Spanish coming soon.

First, a member of eButterfly logs into their account and enters when, where, and how they saw their butterflies. Then, they are prompted to fill out a checklist of all the butterflies seen, photographed, or collected during the outing. eButterfly provides several options for data gathering, including point counts, transects, and area searches. Regional experts review all submissions before they enter the database as a viable record. Taxonomic experts review unusual records that are flagged by the regional experts.

Why should you use eButterfly?

eButterfly is an essential tool for butterfly enthusiasts, just like a net or a camera. It organizes, stores and shares your butterfly sightings and photos. You like butterflies; you watch butterflies, you take photos of butterflies, or you collect butterflies. However, your information of when and where you saw all these butterflies is not as organized as you would like.

You would like to know where you can see an Eastern Tailed Blue next week. You would like to know how many Monarchs have been seen in Arizona this winter. You want to show off that superlative photo of Speyeria idalia to your friends at a barbeque. You can now do this with eButterfly. eButterfly offers this for you from any device with internet access: computers, tablets and phones.

eButterfly increases in value as more folks participate. It serves as a central repository for butterfly observations, checklists and photos across the hemisphere. As the data grows, citizen scientists, professional scientists, educators, and land managers can use the information to learn more about butterflies, to explore science and conservation issues and make decisions affecting the abundance, distribution and persistence of our insect friends..

Data Accessibility

eButterfly data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily. These data are accessible to anyone via the eButterfly website. This data is shared regularly with other applications developed by the global biodiversity information community. For example, eButterfly data is part of the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network (TMKN), which integrates observational data from multiple organizations on Monarch Butterfly observations and its habitat across North America. In this way, any contribution made to eButterfly increases our understanding of butterflies and their contribution to biodiversity on our planet.

In addition to the visualizations provided at eButterfly, we make all raw data available for free for noncommercial use. eButterfly data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily at the University of Ottawa. eButterfly data is shared with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and updated daily. You can visit the eButterfly Survey dataset, and be sure to cite the DOI if you use it in any publications.

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