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3 Posts tagged with the lepidoptera tag

Pavel Pecháček & David Stella,  Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic


Friday 21 November 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)



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The males of the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) have ultraviolet patterns on the dorsal surfaces of their wings. Using geometric morphometrics, we have analysed correlations between environmental variables (climate, productivity) and shape variability of the ultraviolet pattern and the forewing in specimens of Palaearctic butterflies. Using principal component analysis (PCA) precipitation, temperature, latitude correlated with shape variation of the ultraviolet patterns across the Palaearctic region. We observed a systematic increase in the relative area of ultraviolet colouration with increasing temperature and precipitation and decreasing latitude. We conclude that the variation in shape of ultraviolet patterns on the forewings of male Brimstone butterflies is correlated with large-scale environmental factors.



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Using the NHM collections to track the long-term seasonal response of British butterflies to climate change


Steve Brooks

Department of Life Sciences, NHM


Wednesday 29 January 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)



Changes in the emergence dates of British butterflies have been documented from observational monitoring data which mostly date from the 1970s. Few data, however, are currently available to extend the baseline to the period before the onset of rapid climate change. An important, but neglected, source of information is available in the NHM collections, which can extend this record to the mid-19th century. Our results show that British butterfly collection data reflect phenological responses to temperature. First collection dates of museum specimens advance during warm years and retreat during cold years. Rates of change, however, appear to be slowing in some species, when compared to recent observational data, suggesting some species may be approaching the limits of phenological advancement. Steve Brooks will discuss the potential  of the NHM collections to study the response of animals and plants to recent climate change.




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Thanks to a collaboration between the Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project (TABDP, which is a University College London, NHM and Darwin Initiative project)  and the Butterflies of America project (BoA) , we now have a unique online archive of photographs of the type specimens of Neotropical butterflies - butterflies from the tropical areas of the Americas.




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This project has a number of purposes and benefits. 


  • First, the list of butterflies is a checklist - a list used to define all the species found in a particular area. This is important because it summarises current knowledge of diversity: biodiversity scientists and conservation professionals know what has been found and what they should take account of in research. The act of compiling a checklist will often involve research and reorganisation of collections to reflect current knowledge
  • Second, these are photographs of the type specimens - the definitive reference specimens used as authority for the use of a scientific name.  These are housed in museums such as the NHM in a number of different locations. A virtual photographic collection allows scientists to see easily where the reference specimens are for use - and the photograph may be sufficient for some scientific uses.  It also brings together specimens from different collections that would not otherwise be brought together without considerable cost.
  • Third, the photographs can help in identification and mean that scientists and conservation workers in different parts of the Americas can use the resource as a reference - this may need some care and development of more complex identification resources, such as keys, but the pictures are an important resource nonetheless.

The great majority of these images are scans of print photographs taken by Gerardo Lamas over many years of research in museums throughout the world, and we are very grateful for his generosity in allowing them to be made available. Scanning and initial databasing of the prints was completed by TABDP, supported by the Darwin Initiative, and then given to BoA to be made available online. BoA's Nick Grishin designed and wrote the web pages that now display the images. Numerous other people deserve acknowledgement, including the curators of the museums where these types are housed and many other members of TABDP, BoA and other lepidopterists who contributed images, time and encouragement.