Quick references and links:
Register to monitor butterflies through iBMS: https://bit.ly/2ZnQLSt
Website of the iBMS: https://ibms-network.in
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IBMS.Butterfly, @IBMS.Butterfly
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ibms.butterfly
Butterflies of India website: https://www.ifoundbutterflies.org
iNaturalist project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/indian-butterfly-monitoring-scheme-ibms
The Indian Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (iBMS) was launched in 2021 by a group of leading scientists, naturalists, nature educators and conservationists, after a few successful butterfly monitoring projects, most notably in Bengaluru where butterfly populations have been monitored every two weeks for the past nearly 10 years. The scientific goal of iBMS is to understand the long-term trends in butterfly population dynamics in the face of changing climate, habitats, and land-use practices. iBMS will therefore train and lead a network of students, citizen groups and scientists across the country to monitor butterflies in their neighbourhoods as well as protected areas further afield. In the process, the network will also build a community of butterfly lovers and naturalists in the service of nature education, citizen science and conservation. The large amount of data generated through iBMS will be analysed, and the annual reports, data summaries and scientific papers published will be submitted to policy-making and policy-implementing agencies such as state forest departments and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). This will ensure that the findings are translated into conservation action.
The iBMS is inspired by the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) that was launched in 1976 and has been running uninterrupted ever since. The success of the UKBMS subsequently galvanised the creation of similar Butterfly Monitoring Schemes across several European countries, under the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (eBMS). The North American Butterfly Monitoring Network similarly monitors butterfly populations on that continent. Data gathered through all these monitoring schemes have revealed how butterfly populations and their long-term persistence and viability are impacted by seasonal, yearly and long-term climatic variations, changing land-use, agricultural practices (including crop systems and use of various chemical fertilisers/pesticides), pollution, and land conversions, as well as by conservation management practices and habitat restorations. They have also revealed long-term population declines in many specialised butterfly species (i.e., species that depend on specific habitats, plant species, and land-use practices) while also showing increasing abundance of widespread species that thrive in human-dominated landscapes. The scientific value of the data generated through these monitoring schemes has helped restore and conserve populations of many endangered butterfly species. These projects have also tracked population trends and suggested conservation actions that are necessary to protect other uncommon or otherwise vulnerable butterfly species and populations.
The Indian efforts in the form of butterfly monitoring in Bengaluru and as part of the Big Butterfly Month in 2019 and 2020 have now coalesced into the creation of the iBMS. The experiences from Pune, Nagpur, Bengaluru and Mangalore (or Mangaluru), not to mention those from the UK, Europe and North America, have shown that undergraduate and PhD students, non-professional naturalists and other nature enthusiasts can collaborate with experienced scientists in generating high-quality data as well as scientifically sound research papers and report summaries. This can boost scientific growth and assist in the conservation of butterfly populations in at-risk habitats, helping state forest departments and other policy-making and policy-implementing agencies by providing valuable long-term data. These collaborations will also fulfil several biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation measures, protocols and international treaties to which India has made commitments through The Biological Diversity Act, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Paris Agreement.