This new addition to the British Wildlife Collection is a unique take on butterfly behaviour and ecology, written by the former Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, Martin Warren. It explores the secret lives of our British species (also drawing on comparative examples from continental Europe), revealing how they have become adapted to survive in such a highly competitive natural world.
Combining personal anecdote with the latest discoveries in the scientific literature, this book covers everything from why we love butterflies and their life-cycle from egg to adult, to their struggle for survival in a world of predators and parasites and the miracle of migration. The final chapters explore how butterflies are recorded, the change in their ranges and abundance during the 20th and 21st centuries, and the significance of managing habitats at a landscape scale, concluding with a passionate plea for why we must act now to reverse butterfly declines.
Insightful, inspiring and a joy to read, Butterflies is the culmination of a lifetime of careful research into what makes these beautiful insects tick and how and why we must conserve them.
Martin Warren has studied the ecology and conservation of butterflies for more than 45 years, including research on threatened species, land-use management and climate change. He trained at Imperial College and University College London and undertook a PhD on butterfly ecology at the University of Cambridge. He was butterfly specialist for the Nature Conservancy Council before joining Butterfly Conservation as their first Conservation Officer in 1993. He has recently retired as the Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, and currently holds a part-time position as Head of Development with Butterfly Conservation Europe.
Martin has published more than 300 scientific papers during his career, as well as hundreds of reports, and is co-author of several books. In 2007 he won the Marsh Award for Insect Conservation from the Royal Entomological Society and has appeared in the top 10 list of British conservationists in BBC Wildlife Magazine. He was awarded an OBE for services to the environment in 2017.
"There are a lot of books on British butterflies, and it might be tempting to meet the publication of a further one with the famous phrase ‘Oh no, not another one’ [...] But this is different – it is timely, much-needed and excellent. The author, Martin Warren, has been involved in butterflies for effectively the whole of his life, culminating in 13 years as Director of Butterfly Conservation, and this book seems like a distillation of all he has learnt through this lifetime of interest. It is not a field guide in any sense, but rather best viewed as a companion to butterfly-watching in Britain. [...] So, suffice to say that almost everyone is likely to learn something from the book, and for me, at least, it already informs and enhances the way I look at butterflies when I am out in the field. I should also add that it is well and clearly written in an easy and open way, with enough personal anecdote to lighten it yet not so much as to reduce its erudition. The photographs, too, are well chosen, well placed and almost uniformly excellent. In summary, I have nothing but praise for this book. Anyone interested in butterflies, and especially those involved with sites where butterflies are a significant presence, should read it. It is beautifully produced and printed [...]"
– Bob Gibbons, British Wildlife 32(8), August 2021