Assessing conservation status and trends for the world's butterflies: The Sampled Red List Index approach
Lewis OT., Senior MJM.
Red List Indices provide a method for assessing global trends in species' conservation status, and for monitoring progress towards achieving conservation targets (for example, commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity). Red List Indices are based on categorization of taxa in terms of their threat status using information on, for example, current and projected abundances, distributions, and threats. Global assessments have now been undertaken for a suite of well-known vertebrate taxa. However, highly diverse invertebrate taxa are currently very poorly represented in such assessments, and there is a danger that their threats and their utility as biodiversity indicators will be overlooked. Unlike most invertebrates, butterflies are relatively well-known globally. We describe ongoing efforts to incorporate butterflies into the Red List Index process. Because of high species richness (approximately 15,000 Papilionoidea globally) a comprehensive assessment is not feasible. Instead, we apply a 'Sampled Red List Index' approach which draws on a subset of 1,500 focal taxa. We illustrate the process and the challenges (particularly taxonomic issues and issues of data deficiency) using a variety of case studies. The information provided should be relevant to other researchers seeking to apply the Red List Index approach to invertebrates and other diverse but poorly studied taxa. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.