Data Protocol

This is a citizen science project at Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary. We are surveying butterflies onsite to find out what species reside in the sanctuary. The last time systematic butterfly surveys were conducted by staff was 1994. Has the species community changed significantly since then? We’ll find out!

Data Protocol– How, when, and where to collect information for the project.

  • Minimum weather conditions for surveying
    • Temperature at Woodend must be at least 60 degrees F.
    • Wind must be less than 25 mph. You’ll see more butterflies when it’s calm, and it will be easier to photograph them for iNaturalist.
    • No rain– if rain is falling do not survey.
  • When to survey:
    • Start a survey no earlier than 10:00 am, and finish by 5:00 pm.
    • Try to conduct one survey each week. If too many of us skip a certain week, we may miss a short-lived species altogether.
  • Where to survey:
    • We are focusing on both meadows and the native plant garden. However, you may also see butterflies in the lawn areas or in the forest edges
    • You may need to retrace your steps in order to fully survey one of the meadows. When you’re walking an area where you already counted, do not tally additional individuals for species already on your data sheet. Only count butterfly species that are new, e.g. the first Red-Spotted Purple you’ve seen that day, but not the fifth Tiger Swallowtail. This is to reduce duplicate counting.
  • How to report your data:
    • Photograph at least one of each species you see, and upload it to our project in iNaturalist within 24 hours. You can use the mobile app to submit right from the field, or the web site (¬† if you used a separate camera.
    • Fill out a data form (printable PDF: Butterfly survey data form) for each¬† survey as well: note the date, the times of your survey, the weather conditions, habitat types you checked, and the species you saw.
      • You may hold onto a data form up to 7 days after the survey in order to get assistance identifying the butterflies from folks on iNaturalist.
      • Identify the butterflies as best you can; an approximation (“Skipper species”) is fine if you didn’t see it well enough for proper ID.
      • If you paired up with someone else for a survey, only submit one data form for the team.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Thanks for helping with this project!




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