Turkey is a country of prime importance for butterflies throughout Europe. With its more than 380 species, it hosts higher butterfly richness than any European country. Some of its regions host as many species as a country alone; e.g. the number of butterfly species that can be seen in Artvin is higher than the overall butterfly richness of Slovenia, Sweden and Finland.
Among the butterflies of Turkey, app. 50 are endemic, i.e. they are present only in this country. Yet, butterflies are among the most threatened species groups in Turkey. Almost one in every 10 species is threatened with extinction.
Doğa Koruma Merkezi (DKM; Nature Conservation Centre) is a non-governmental organization, which focuses on the conservation of butterflies, among other topics (www.dkm.org.tr). DKM is also the Turkish partner of Butterfly Conservation Europe (BCE; www.bc-europe.eu), and has carried out many projects on butterflies since its establishment in 2004. Among these studies are (i) technical trainings given to increase the capacities of new butterfly watchers, (ii) publication of the first national Red List of Turkey’s butterflies, prepared following IUCN standards, (iii) identification of Turkey’s Prime Butterfly Areas (PBAs), (iv) publishing a national Butterfly Conservation Strategy prepared in consultation with experts and stakeholders, (v) raising awareness studies on butterfly smuggling. The last project of DKM on butterflies was the publication of a field guide.
DKM has carried out the Turkey’s Butterflies Field Guide Project between 2018 and 2019 with the support of Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. In the framework of the project, a detailed guide for identifying butterfly species on the field was prepared and published. This publication aimed at filling an important gap, especially for nature conservation experts and nature guides. With this guide, DKM aimed at raising awareness about Turkey’s butterflies among public, popularizing butterfly watching among Turkish citizens, and also contributing to an increase on the data collected professionally or voluntarily on butterflies, which can give support to conservation practices.
In many countries of Europe, field observations towards different species groups are common. A main reason of this is the presence of a high diversity of field guides. The presence of numerous field guides adapted from children to experts on their own language, have led to an increase in nature observations. Especially, guides prepared specific to a country, with details when and where a species can be seen, are essential for observers carrying out activities as a hobby or professionally on the field. However in Turkey, there exist very few field guides on different species groups, and also majority of them are translations of foreign guides to Turkish. In other words, there exist very limited number of field guides that are prepared specifically to Turkey. But in parallel, the number of people, from students to retired people, interested in butterfly watching in Turkey has increased drastically. In this respect there are different internet platforms which are established: Turkey’s Anonym Butterflies (TRAKEL; www.trakel.org), Turkey Butterfly Watchers and Photographers Club (AdaMerOs-Kelebek-Türkiye; www.adamerkelebek.org) are among them.
In Turkey, this increase in butterfly watchers is of course linked to our high butterfly richness. With this project, the most up to date and extended field guide on Turkey’s butterflies is published. We believe this guide will correspond to a big gap in Turkey. Prepared by Ahmet Baytaş, the field guide is made up of more than 260 pages, gives information about 377 butterfly species. The guide details the Turkish and latin names of butterflies, gives tips about identifying species on the field, their flight period, their habitats, their distribution in Turkey, the plant species the caterpillars feed on, etc. Also other than the very rare, vagrant species, and those which are not possible to identify on the field, the guide includes photographs of all butterfly species taken on the field. For many of the species, photographs showing both the upper and lower wings are presented. But for those which rest holding wings closed, only lower wing photographs are presented. For species where male and female appereances are different, photographs detailing these differences are presented. For species which have differences among populations or subspecies, again photographs detailing these differences are presented. All these details aims at helping the observers identify butterflies in nature in an easy and effective way. The structure, the size and the presentation of this field guide follows the internationally accepted standards.
Turkey’s Butterflies Field Guide can be used by a wide public, ranging from children to adults, and the detailed texts and photographs it hold, will help the readers to identify butterflies in nature in an easy way. You can have access to the field guide, in elite bookstores and also online.