A comparison of butterfly populations on organically and conventionally managed farmland

  • Published source details Feber R., Johnson P., Firbank L., Hopkins A. & MacDonald D. (2007) A comparison of butterfly populations on organically and conventionally managed farmland. Journal of Zoology, 273, 30-39.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Convert to organic farming

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Convert to organic farming

    A replicated, paired sites, site comparison study in 1994–1996 in 34 arable farms in southern England, UK (Feber et al 1997) found that organic farms had a higher abundance of butterflies than conventional farms, but higher species richness in only the first of three study years. In all years there were more butterflies on organic farms (average: 24–34 individuals/km) than conventional farms (average: 17–21 individuals/km). See paper for average numbers of individual species. In 1994, there was higher species richness on organic (average: 10–16 species/km) than conventional farms (average: 8–12 species/km), but there was no difference between the two systems in 1995–1996 (1995 average species/km: organic = 12–16, conventional = 8–14; 1996 average species/km: organic = 11–16, conventional = 9–15). Pairs of neighbouring organic and conventional farms were surveyed (eight pairs in 1994, ten in 1995 and five in 1996, of which three were surveyed every year). From April–September 1994–1996, butterflies were surveyed every two weeks on transects of differing lengths, each of which included areas of both organic and conventional farms.

    (Summarised by: Eleanor Bladon)

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