We interview Butterfly Conservation’s Ecological Statistician, Lisbeth Hordley, and find out about the projects she is working on.
Tell us about your role at BC
I joined BC as Ecological Modeller, which means that I conduct any research that BC is interested in using their long-term monitoring data sets for butterflies and moths. I look at the impacts of environmental change on butterfly and moth distributions and also assist other members of staff with statistical analysis. BC has a lot of great data collected from members of the public and experienced researchers and ecologists, but the data needs to have an impact somewhere and do something.
What have you been working on since you took up this position with BC?
The main area I’ve been looking into is how upland moths are impacted by climate change. These are the moths that are adapted to cooler temperatures and already live at higher elevation. We’d expect that as the climate warms, for them to distribute themselves even higher and maybe even push themselves out of range. It’s really important that we try and understand what’s happening here, because as some of these species move further up into mountainous areas, there might not be anywhere else for them to go.
How has the pandemic affected the work that you do?
Luckily, it has not affected my working style, as I can work remotely if necessary – I’m at a desk most of the time and so that hasn’t changed! There may be implications in the future, if I work with data from 2020 as we have to take into consideration that there may be a lot of missing data from weeks that it wasn’t able to be collected due to the pandemic.
Is there something that you’re looking forward to?
I’ll be presenting some of the data that I’ve started working on at the British Ecological Society meeting ‘Ecology without Borders’ being held in Liverpool in December. I’m starting to get that research ready to present and share with the scientific community. It’s really nice for me to have that goal to look forward to and work towards so early on in my role. We also have a lot of research planned that we’re hoping will make an impact on policy and management, such as the impact of tree planting on grasslands.
What is it about butterflies and moths that fascinates you?
The fact that they are such good indicators of our natural environment and the fact that they’re quite easy to record. You have this nice balance where our supporters really enjoy going out to count butterflies and moths and the fact that in doing so we learn a lot about our environment from this data.