Integrated Publishing Toolkit(IPT)

free and open access to biodiversity data - Butterfly occurrences in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium

Latest version published by Natuurpunt on Sep 21, 2018 Natuurpunt - Butterfly occurrences in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium is a species occurrence dataset published by Natuurpunt and described (v1.4) in Maes et al. (2016, The dataset contains close to 900,000 butterfly occurrences of 68 naturally occurring species (native, vagrant or migrant species), recorded by volunteers (citizen scientists), mainly since 2008. The occurrences are derived from the database, hosted at the nature conservation NGO Natuurpunt in collaboration with Stichting Natuurinformatie. Together with the dataset Maes et al. (2016,, the dataset represents the most complete overview of butterflies in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region (north Belgium).

Generalized and/or withheld information: location information is generalized to 5 x 5 km² Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid cells. Observer name, exact XY-coordinates, toponyms, and photographs are not included in the published dataset, but are known in the source database.

To allow anyone to use this dataset, we have released the data to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero waiver ( We would appreciate however, if you read and follow these norms for data use ( and provide a link to the original dataset ( whenever possible. If you use these data for a scientific paper, please cite the dataset following the applicable citation norms and/or consider us for co-authorship. We are always interested to provide more information or know how you have used the data, so please contact us via the contact information provided in the metadata or

The publication of this dataset was supported by the INBO as part of the Flemish contribution to LifeWatch.

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 899,407 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.


Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:

Data as a DwC-A file download 899,407 records in English (29 MB) - Update frequency: annually
Metadata as an EML file download in English (21 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (18 KB)


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Vanreusel W, Herremans M, Vantieghem P, Gielen K, Swinnen K, Vlinderwerkgroep Natuurpunt, all butterfly recorders (2016): - Butterfly occurrences in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium. v1.6. Natuurpunt. Dataset/Occurrence.


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is Natuurpunt. To the extent possible under law, the publisher has waived all rights to these data and has dedicated them to the Public Domain (CC0 1.0). Users may copy, modify, distribute and use the work, including for commercial purposes, without restriction.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 1f968e89-ca96-4065-91a5-4858e736b5aa.  Natuurpunt publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Belgian Biodiversity Platform.


Occurrence; Observation; butterflies; Lepidoptera; distribution; observations; collection; literature; citizen science; Natuurpunt;


Who created the resource:

Wouter Vanreusel
Marc Herremans
Pieter Vantieghem
Karin Gielen
Vlinderwerkgroep Natuurpunt
Vlinderwerkgroep Natuurpunt BE
all butterfly recorders
all butterfly recorders BE

Who can answer questions about the resource:

Marc Herremans

Who filled in the metadata:

Geographic Coverage

Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region. These regions are situated in the north of Belgium and cover an area of 13,522 km² and 162 km² respectively (13,684 km² in total or 45% of the Belgian territory). Flanders is largely covered by agricultural land and urban areas while the Brussels Capital Region is mainly urban. All occurrence data are generalized to grid cells of 5 x 5 km² of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system, with the grid codes indicated in the field verbatimCoordinates. The WGS84 centroids of these grid cells are calculated in decimalLatitude/Longitude with a coordinateUncertaintyInMeters of 3,769 meters using Wieczorek et al. (2004).

Bounding Coordinates South West [50.67, 2.53], North East [51.51, 5.94]

Taxonomic Coverage

The dataset covers 49 of the 68 native as well as 3 regular migrant butterfly species (Colias croceus, C. hyale, and Vanessa cardui). Aporia crataegi, Argynnis adippe, Argynnis aglaja, Boloria selene, and Coenonympha tullia no longer have breeding populations in Flanders and recent observations are all considered as vagrant individuals in this dataset. 10 vagrant species with photographic evidence, that most likely spontaneously reached Flanders (Apatura ilia, Brenthis daphne, Brenthis ino, Cupido argiades, Iphiclides podalirius, Lampides boeticus, Nymphalis xanthomelas, Pieris mannii, Polyommatus coridon and Pontia daplidice), are also included. Two observations from Danaus plexippus are most likely escapes but the origin could not be confirmed. If the observer remarked that the specific individual was introduced by man, then this is recorded in the field establishmentMeans. Nomenclature is according to Fauna Europaea (

Kingdom  Animalia (animals)
Phylum  Arthropoda
Class  Insecta (insects)
Order  Lepidoptera (moths & butterflies)
Family  Hesperiidae,  Lycaenidae,  Nymphalidae,  Papilionidae,  Pieridae

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 1934-05-19 / 2016-12-31

Sampling Methods

The observations (species, date, location, observer) were recorded by volunteers (citizen scientists) at

Study Extent See geographic coverage.
Quality Control Recorded data are constantly verified by butterfly experts (including professional entomologists) taking collection specimens, the observer’s species knowledge, added photographs and known species list of locations into account. The validation procedure from consists of an interactive procedure in which observers can be asked for additional information by a team of validators, after which the validator manually adds a validation status. Records that are not manually validated are additionally checked by an automated validation procedure that takes into account the number of manually validated observations within a specified date and distance range. 10% of the observations in this dataset are supported by a photograph on The validation status is indicated in the field identificationVerificationStatus, the link to the original record in references.

Method step description:

  1. Not provided.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Maes D, Vanreusel W, Herremans M, Vantieghem P, Brosens D, Gielen K, Beck O, Van Dyck H, Desmet P, Vlinderwerkgroep Natuurpunt (2016) A database on the distribution of butterflies (Lepidoptera) in northern Belgium (Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region). ZooKeys 585: 143-156.
  2. Daniëls L (1991). JNM-Dagvlinderprojekt. Euglena, 10: 26-27.
  3. De Prins W (1998). Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of Belgium, Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen, Brussel, 235 pp.
  4. De Selys-Longchamps E (1837). Catalogue des Lepidoptères ou Papillons de la Belgique. Luik. 14-21.
  5. Hackray J, Sarlet L, Berger L (1969). Catalogue des macrolépidoptères de Belgique. Lambillionea (suppl.), 67: 1-256.
  6. Kühn E, Feldmann R, Harpke A, Hirneisen N, Musche M, Leopold P, Settele J (2008). Getting the public involved in butterfly conservation: Lessons learned from a new monitoring scheme in Germany. Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution, 54: 89-103.
  7. Maes D, Van Dyck H (1996). Een gedocumenteerde Rode lijst van de dagvlinders van Vlaanderen, Mededelingen van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud Instituut voor Natuurbehoud, Brussel, 154 pp.
  8. Maes D, Van Dyck H (1999). Dagvlinders in Vlaanderen - Ecologie, verspreiding en behoud, Stichting Leefmilieu i.s.m. Instituut voor Natuurbehoud en Vlaamse Vlinderwerkgroep, Antwerpen/Brussel, 480 pp.
  9. Maes D, Vanreusel W, Jacobs I, Berwaerts K, Van Dyck H (2012). Applying IUCN Red List criteria at a small regional level: A test case with butterflies in Flanders (north Belgium). Biological Conservation, 145: 258-266.
  10. Maes D, Vanreusel W, Van Dyck H (2013). Dagvlinders in Vlaanderen: nieuwe kennis voor betere actie, Uitgeverij Lannoo nv, Tielt, 542 pp.
  11. Maes D, Brosens D, Beck O, Van Dyck H, Desmet P, Vlinderwerkgroep Natuurpunt, all butterfly recorders (2016): Vlinderdatabank - Butterflies in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium. Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Dataset/Occurrence. Data paper:
  12. Wieczorek J, Guo QG, Hijmans RJ (2004). The point-radius method for georeferencing locality descriptions and calculating associated uncertainty. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 18: 745-767.

Additional Metadata

Purpose Butterflies are among the best studied insects in the world and have always attracted the attention of both professional researchers, amateur naturalists, butterfly collectors, and the wider public (Kühn et al. 2008). Butterflies are widely considered as interesting study systems for ecology, evolution, behaviour, and conservation biology (e.g., Watt and Boggs 2003). Many butterflies have been collected and subsequently stored in museum or private collections. Furthermore, entomologists have often published lists of observed species during excursions to special habitats or have made overviews of regional or national butterfly faunas. In Belgium, entomology in general and lepidopterology in particular, have a long tradition with the first faunas already published only seven years after its independence in 1830 (De Selys-Longchamps 1837). Since then, several authors have updated the Belgian butterfly fauna based on collections or observations (e.g., Hackray et al. 1969; De Prins 1998). In 1991, the youth and nature organization Jeugdbond voor Natuur en Milieu (JNM) launched a butterfly project with the aim to publish a distribution atlas of the butterflies of Flanders, north Belgium (Daniëls 1991). To do so, a first step consisted of collecting all historical collection and literature data. Secondly, a working group was organised in cooperation between JNM, De Wielewaal (which later became Natuurpunt) and the INBO that set up a citizen science project to obtain as many butterfly observations with a good spatial coverage over Flanders. The data gathered during this project (period 1991-1998) were used to compile a first Red List (Maes and Van Dyck 1996) and a distribution atlas of butterflies in Flanders, including the Brussels Capital Region (Maes and Van Dyck 1999). Recently, both the Red List (Maes et al. 2012) and the distribution atlas (Maes et al. 2013) were updated using recent distribution data recorded through, a data portal launched by Natuurpunt, the largest nature conservation NGO in Belgium, where citizen-scientists can store and keep track of their recordings. Here, we publish both the historical and the more recent data used for the Red List and the distribution atlases as a data paper on a UTM grid cell resolution of 5 x 5 km².
Alternative Identifiers 1f968e89-ca96-4065-91a5-4858e736b5aa