What does 'butterflying was your primary purpose' mean?

Created by Jason Loomis, Modified on Thu, 07 May 2020 at 07:10 PM by e-butterfly agent

When selecting your eButterfly checklist type in step 2, the phrase 'butterflying was your primary purpose' is used in several protocol descriptions. This is an exceedingly important aspect of data quality in eButterfly observations. Our one-sentence definition of this, with stress on the essential parts:

"When butterflying is your primary purpose, you are making an effort to find and record all the butterflies around you to the best of your ability."

Primary-purpose butterflying (i.e. complete checklists) might include a travelling count while walking a trail, or a count of all the butterflies in a meadow, situations when you are usually outside, on foot, and fully tuned to all butterflies.

When butterflying is not your primary purpose, you might notice a butterfly of interest and want to enter that single record, but you made no effort to do a complete survey of the butterflies around you. Examples might include a Monarch that flew over while you were at a baseball game or an incomplete list of butterflies that you casually noticed throughout the day while gardening. Similarly, a butterfly flying across the road in front of you or seen while driving at highway speed is by definition not a time when butterfly watching was your primary purpose because you can't reasonably make an effort to find all the butterflies around you (for example, small skippers would not be detected). The critical point is that you did or could not make a concerted effort to find and record all the butterflies in these situations.

You can on occasions turn what would be one or more incidental observations into more effort-based checklists, just by the way you note it down. If a White Admiral lands on the trail in front of you, you could count all the butterflies you find as you walk 500 meters in 20 minutes with the primary purpose of butterflying, and turn it into a travelling count. These counts are better when done unsolicited, as opposed to being prompted by a butterfly you noticed, but it is still painting a better picture than an Incidental observation.

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