Male. Hobbies and other interests: Butterfly conservation.
Home—24 Fettiplace Rd., Marcham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 6PL, England. E-mail—[email protected].
British Butterfly Conservation Society.
Volunteer of the year, British Butterfly Conservation Society, 2000.
The Butterflies of Buckingham and Oxfordshire, Pisces Publications (Newbury, England), 1994. (With Nick Greatorex-Davies, Estella Roberts, and others) The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Jim Asher is a coauthor of The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland, a work described by some critics as an ambitious, comprehensive guide to its subject. The atlas is the result of the Butterflies for the New Millennium Project, a survey begun in 1995 to document the types and locations of butterflies in the British Isles. More than 10,000 volunteers were involved in the project, gathering data intended to provide a point of comparison with previous studies of the butterfly population and therefore guide conservation planning.
"This sumptuous work represents the fruits of this extraordinary effort," commented Gaden S. Robinson in the Times Literary Supplement. Robinson explained, "This beautifully produced book draws on an extraordinarily, and possibly uniquely, large data-set to give us a 'state-of-the-union' report on Britain's butterflies. The presentation is accessible, well-balanced and exemplary." Accompanying the text on the distribution of butterfly species are illustrations and detailed maps, and "each map tells its own story," Robinson noted. "The map for the Chequered Skipper comprises a tight cluster of red, orange and yellow dots in the northwest Highlands of Scotland.…The Essex Skipper, whose map is a solid block of colour south of a line from the Humber to Lyme Regis, has more than doubled its range in thirty years."
Several other reviewers praised the scope and execution of the atlas. John Fowles, writing in Spectator, called the book "a complete gazetteer …excellently illustrated," while a Nature contributor wrote that it "provides an invaluable picture" of Britain and Ireland's butterfly population. In some parts of the isles that population is endangered by loss of its habitat, although Robinson pointed out, "The widespread preconception that all our butterflies are dwindling away is wrong, however, and this book shows that the story is more that of ups and downs, albeit with many more of the latter than the former." Even so, the book's data supports a case for "active management of habitats" to assure the survival of certain species, he added. Robinson concluded that the atlas "is a mandatory addition to the library of any serious naturalist."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Nature, April 26, 2001, "A Passion for Butterflies," p. 1030.
Spectator, April 21, 2001, John Fowles, "Lessons of Lepidoptery," p. 40.
Times Literary Supplement, February 15, 2002, Gaden S. Robinson, "All the Ups and Downs," p. 13.*