Using a phenological network to assess weather influences on first appearance of butterflies in the Netherlands

Henk Jan Van Der Kolk*, Michiel Wallis de Vries, Arnold J.H. Van Vliet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Phenological responses of butterflies to temperature have been demonstrated in several European countries by using data from standardized butterfly monitoring schemes. Recently, phenological networks have enabled volunteers to record phenological observations at project websites. In this study, the quality of the first appearance data of butterflies from the Dutch phenological network 'De Natuurkalender' was examined and these data were then used to analyze trends in butterfly appearance between 2001 and 2013, the effects of climatic factors on appearance of butterflies as well as the phenological interaction of one butterfly species, Anthocharis cardamines, and its two major host plants. Although phenological networks are relatively unstructured, this study shows that data from De Natuurkalender were highly comparable to more standardized data collected by the Dutch Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. No trend in first appearance of any butterfly species was found during the time period 2001-2013. The first appearance dates of most butterflies showed, however, a clear relationship with spring temperature. Higher temperatures, especially in March and April, advanced the first appearance of butterflies. Therefore, with climatic warming in the future, earlier appearance of butterflies is expected. Although climate warming is a potential threat for phenological mismatches between different trophic levels, this study shows a similar temperature response of A. cardamines and its main host plants in the Netherlands. However, as only few phenological interactions between species are examined, further research including rarer monophagous butterfly species and their host plants is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-212
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anthocharis cardamines
  • Butterflies
  • Climate change
  • Monitoring network
  • Phenology
  • Plant-host interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Using a phenological network to assess weather influences on first appearance of butterflies in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this