eButterfly documents the presence or absence and abundance of species through a checklist approach. A web-interface engages participants to submit their observations through interactive questions and answers. eButterfly encourages users to participate repeatedly by providing tools to maintain their personal observations and photo records as well as providing ways to visualize data with maps, tables, graphs and bar charts. All these features are currently available in English and French with Spanish coming soon.
A member of eButterfly logs into their account and enters when, where, and how they saw their butterflies. Then they are prompted to fill out a checklist of all the butterflies seen, photographed, or collected during the outing. eButterfly provides several options for data gathering including point counts, transects, and area searches. Regional experts review all submissions before they enter the database as a viable record. Taxonomic experts review unusual records that are flagged by the regional experts.
eButterfly also collects observations from butterfly enthusiasts through portals managed and maintained by local partner conservation organizations. In this way, eButterfly targets specific audiences with the highest level of local expertise, promotion, and project ownership. Portals may have a regional focus or they may have more specific goals and/or specific methodologies such as monarch migration. Each eButterfly portal is fully integrated within the eButterfly system. eButterfly has its own portals on other more general biodiversity websites such as iNaturalist and the Great Nature Project. This way eButterfly can reach out and capture the attention of less specialized naturalists and foster those interested in starting to watch and record butterflies. Each external eButterfly portal is fully integrated to the main eButterfly database with careful consideration for preventing duplicate records in users contributing to multiple sites.
eButterfly has included historic data from various museum collections and biodiversity institutions into the distribution and phenology features and tools. These data may help inform how butterflies populations and phenology have changed across North America.
eButterfly data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily. These data are accessible to anyone via the eButterfly website. In the future, this data will be shared regularly with other applications developed by the global biodiversity information community. For example, eButterfly data plans to be part of the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network (NABMN), which integrates observational data from multiple organizations on butterfly populations across the western hemisphere. In this way any contribution made to eButterfly increases our understanding of butterflies and their contribution to biodiversity on our planet.