Dr Blanca Huertas

Blanca Huertas
  • Curator, Lepidoptera
  • Life Sciences department
  • Insects
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD

Biography

Education

2007- M Phil (PhD candidate) University College London, UK.

2004. Master in Sciences and Diploma in Advanced Methods in Taxonomy and Biodiversity, Imperial College London and University of London. Project title: Butterfly diversity in the Serranía de los Yariguíes: Elevational Distribution, Rapid Assessment Inventories and Conservation in the Colombian Andes (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea). 99pp.

2002. Specialisation in Environmental Management and Education. Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Bogotá, Colombia. (1st Class). Project title: Design for a methodological strategy towards the exploration of the concept of participation for the purpose of the management of solid residuals. 70pp. (Distinction).

2001. Diploma in Biology, Ecology and Conservation of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Universidad del Valle and Institute for Pacific Region Research IAP, Cali, Colombia.

2000. Diploma in Taxonomy of Scarab Beetles of Economic Importance Universidad del Valle, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture CIAT and IAP, Cali, Colombia.

2000. Biology. Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia.(1st Class). Project title: Butterflies collected by Colombia '98 Expedition in Serranía de los Churumbelos, Cauca State, elevational distribution and species diversity (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). 80pp. (Distinction).

Career

2005-present. Curator of Lepidoptera (Non UK Rhopalocera), Entomology department, Natural History Museum, London, UK.

2005-2007. Databasing and Training Co-ordinator Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project. University College of London (UCL), Darwin Initiative and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

2005-2006 Principal Investigator and entomology team leader. YARE Project (Serranía de los Yariguíes Assessment and Research of Endangered Species), BP Conservation Programme, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International. Santander, Colombia.

2004. Panelist in Entomology. Explore: The annual Expedition Planning Seminar. Royal Geographical Society and BP Conservation Programme. London, UK.

2002. Curatorial Assistant (estagiario) in Genetics Department, Instituto de Biociencias, University of São Paulo, Brazil.

2000-2002. Head of Sciences & Biology-Chemistry Teacher. San Lucas Lutheran School. Bogotá, Colombia.

2000. Researcher and database assistant. Macroinvertebrates of Cundinamarca department Project. COLCIENCIAS & Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia.

Languages

Fluent Spanish (Native), English and Portuguese.

Projects and Expertise

Projects and Recent Fieldwork

Scientific collections and expeditions are crucially important as they help build our knowledge of the natural world – knowledge that can help us to protect the ecosystems we all rely on for survival and save many vulnerable species from extinction.

2005-2011  Re-curation of World Riodinidae Collection (c. 75,000 specimens, 1,500 drawers, 1,300 species). Consolidation of an unrivalled unique collection through amalgamation of main, supplementary, mixed and unidentified accessions and type collections. Re-housing from non DC2 compatible drawers into  modern new accessions drawers with trays. Taxonomy revised and updated with replacement of c. 12,000 labels printed using modern standards. Updating of CM databases including detailed information on type specimens (i.e. sex and type status).  This is the first family-level curatorial project completed in butterflies in decades at NHM. Because there are not many comprehensive modern publications on this group, this is the most important reference collection in the world.  

2005-2009. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project TABP. Databasing and Training Co-ordinator University College of London (UCL), Darwin Initiative and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) funded. Developed in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, UK and USA. First large scale initiative for conservation and databasing of butterflies in the tropical Andes of South America. (c. 200k records available online). Photographs of type specimens taken by Dr Lamas and TABDP are available online in collaboration with the Butterflies of America Project. Training of 200 people through 8 multidisciplinary and fieldwork courses in butterflies delivered in five countries. Establishment of a unique continuing network of hundreds of Neotropical butterfly researchers. Organisation of first International Conference on Andean butterflies in Peru with 120 participants. Bilingual project website available including training materials and manuals. Fieldwork conducted in all Andean countries. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project is lead by Prof. J. Mallet (UCL) and Dr K. Willmott (U. Florida USA).

2008 to present. IUCN Global Assessment of Threatened Butterflies using Sampled Red List Methodology. Neotropical species assessor. Lead by Dr O. Lewis at Oxford University.

2005-2006, YARE Project (Serranía de los Yariguíes Assessment and Research of Endangered Species), Principal Investigator and entomology researcher. BP Conservation Programme, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International. Santander, Colombia. Complete biodiversity inventories of the area, discovery of new species, conservation assessments and community work campaigns conducted, and declaration of a new National Park. Several publications in international journals.

2003-2005, Colombian Evaluation of Biodiversity in the Andes (EBA) Project: Threatened Species of Serranía de los Yariguíes. Logistics co-ordinator and entomology researcher. Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Conservation International, Percy Sladen Memorial Fund (Linnean Society), Duke of Edinburgh, ProAves Foundation, Fundación Omacha and Fondo para la Acción Ambiental. Colombia. Complete biodiversity inventories of the area, discovery of new species, conservation assessments, contribution with IBAs and AZE sites and establishment of a natural reserve. Several publications in international journals.

2001-2002. Search for the Magdalena Tinamou Project (EBA Colombian Evaluation of Biodiversity in the Andes). Logistics co-ordinator and entomology researcher. ProAves Foundation, Royal Geographical Society, Percy Sladen Memorial Fund (Linnean Society) & Duke of Edinburgh. Cesar and Norte de Santander, Colombia. Surveys conducted and new distributional records obtained.

1998. Serranía de los Churumbelos Expedition. (EBA Colombian Evaluation of Biodiversity in the Andes). Entomology researcher. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Cambridge Expeditions Committee, Royal Geographical Society and British Ornithologists' Union. Cauca, Colombia.  Complete biodiversity inventories of the area, discovery of new species, and declaration of a new National Park. Several publications in international journals.

Grants and Fund Raising

Fund Raising is a key way many scientists will be able to explore the species-rich, remote corners of the world and collect the information mankind so desperately needs to better understand our fragile ecosystems. It also help us to communicate our discoveries to the world.

2011. EDIT- Gender Action Plan Mentoring Grants. GAP-EDIT workshop, Paris, France.

2009. Conservation Leadership Programme Alumni Travel Grant  to attend an International Conference in Conservation Biology. (China).

2005-2008. Darwin Initiative Grant for Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project (in winner application team).

2005-2006. Silver Award as Principal Investigator. BP Conservation Programme, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International.

2006-2007. Postgraduate studies MPhil. Staff Development Fund. University College London, UK.

2003-2004. Postgraduate studies. MSc Imperial College, University of London, UK.

2004. Scholarship for Conservation of Endangered species  “Iniciativa la Conservación de las Especies Amenazadas” Conservación Internacional, Fundación Omacha, Fondo para la Acción Ambiental, Colombia.

2000. National Prize in Ecology and Environment. Colombian Entomological Society.

1998 and 1999. Undergraduate studies. Biology degree,Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia.

Scientific Citizenship & Expertise

Member of Steering Committee, IUCN Butterfly specialist group. Scientific Advisor Butterflies of America, Fellow of Linnean Society, member of Society for Conservation Biology, Butterfly Conservation UK, Association for Tropical Lepidoptera, Colombian Lepidopterists Society, Verrall Association of Entomologists.

Ad hoc peer reviewer for: Zootaxa, Bulletin Allyn Museum, Systematic Entomology, Neotropical Entomology, Check List: Journal of Species Lists and Distribution, Conservation & Society, Revista Colombiana de Entomología, Boletín de la Universidad de Caldas, Revista Biota Colombiana.

Curation

I am the curator for the non-UK Rhopalocera collection (c. 35,000 drawers, 4.5 million specimens), one of the most popular collections at the Natural History Museum.  My core responsibilities include ensuring the maintenance, updating and expansion of the collections and collection management databases (taxa, vials, slides, specimen level databases and photographs) of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of butterflies. I provide accessibility through loans, specialised and public enquiries (e.g. dissections, images, identifications, and consultancy) and facilitate use of the collection by scientific and other visitors.  I dealt with internal and external projects in butterflies and contribute with research papers and grant proposals. I manage a team of volunteers, deal with work experience interns and assist scientific associates and researchers. I also deal with corporate and departmental duties, public engagement activities (e.g. learning, press, exhibitions) and contribute to enhancing the value of the collections through collection-based research projects.  My role here is also to promote the importance of the museum collections, engaging people to use, maintain and enhance them, such that they can remain a national treasure for future generations.

Outreach

Recent meetings and conferences

2010 Invited speaker. HUERTAS, B. Neotropical Butterflies and the Conservation Impediment. Butterfly Conservation 6th International Symposium: The 2010 Target and beyond for Lepidoptera, Reading University, UK.

2010 Invited speaker. 25 Year Anniversary Lecture. Conservation Leadership Programme, Birdlife Cambridge.

2010 Contributing author. ROSSER, N., HUERTAS, B., PHILLIMORE, A., & MALLET, J. The geography of speciation in Heliconius butterflies. 6th International Conference on the Biology of Butterflies. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

2010 Participant. ZSL Symposium. Foundations of Biodiversity: Saving the world’s non-vertebrates.

2009 NHM representative. Natural Science Collections Association Conference. Leeds, UK.

2009 Oral presentation. HUERTAS B. & WILLMOTT K. The Use of Museum Data in Setting Conservation Priorities for Tropical Andean Butterflies. International Congress for Conservation Biology and 23rd meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.

2008 Organiser I International Conference on Andean Butterflies and moderator in workshop Priorities for Research and Conservation of Andean Butterflies. Urubamba, Peru.

2008 Inaugural Lecture. HUERTAS, B. Museums and Fieldwork: Key Tools for Conservation Planning. I International Conference on Andean Butterflies, International Symposium in Andean Butterfly Conservation. Urubamba, Peru.

2008 Contributing author. PHILLIMORE, A., HUERTAS, B., ROSSER N., & MALLET, J. Biogeography of Heliconius. CEE: Centre for Ecology and Evolution Conference, London.

2007 Poster presentation: HUERTAS B., WILLMOTT K., LAMAS G. & MALLET, J. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project. II ELEN. International Conference in Neotropical Lepidoptera. Smithsonian Institute, Panama.

2007 Invited Talk. HUERTAS B & DONEGAN T. Biological explorations and discoveries in the Colombian Andes. BP Conservation Programme, BP, Canary Wharf, London.

2007 Contributing author. HUERTAS B., WILLMOTT K., LAMAS G. & MALLET, J. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project. 5th International Conference in Biology of Butterflies. University of Rome, Italy.

2006 Organiser and Moderator. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project First International Workshop, McGuire Centre, University of Florida, USA.

2007 Oral presentation. HUERTAS B. & RIOS C. Butterfly Diversity in the Serranía de los Yariguíes: Elevational Distribution and Conservation in the Colombian Andes (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea). II ELEN. International Conference in Neotropical Lepidoptera. Smithsonian Institute, Panama.

2007 Contributing author. HUERTAS B. & RÍOS C. Investigación y Conservación de las mariposas diurnas de la Serranía de los Yariguíes, Santander (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea. II Congreso Colombiano de Zoología y I Simposio Colombiano de Lepidopterologia. Bogota. Colombia.

2006 Oral presentation. HUERTAS B., RÍOS C & ARIAS J. Investigación y Conservación de las Mariposas de la Serranía de los Yariguíes, Santander (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea). XXXIII Congreso Colombiano de Entomología. Colombian Entomological Society SOCOLEN, Manizales, Colombia.

2006 Contributing author. MORENO M. I., QUEVEDO A, LARA S, DONEGAN T & HUERTAS B. Áreas Claves para los Bosques de Robles y su Conservación en Colombia. I Simposio Internacional sobre Robles y Ecosistemas Asociados. Fundación Natura & Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia.

Public understanding of Science

NHM-Darwin Centre 2 Spokesperson and guide on interactive exhibits and butterflies. Featured in  the ‘Museum of Life’ BBC TV documentary and in national and international media (selected): The Independent, BBC Mundo TV, BBC 1 ‘The One Show’, BBC Radio Midweek programme, Express News London, Spanish Radio, RCN Radio Colombia, BBC Persia, FT Magazine, The Times-Colombia, Caras, Credencial, El Espectador Newspaper, CNN, BBC World TV, G2 (The Guardian supplement), The Observer magazine, BBC Radio 4 woman’s hour,  Metro Newspaper, The Independent, Telegraph, Daily Mail, BBC news online, The Guardian, National Geographic Website and TV, Yahoo news and countless websites in various languages.  

Training

2010. Collective Insights Adult Learning Course, Natural History Museum.

2007- at present. Volunteers Training on curation methods: re-housing and labelling NHM collections: Main (Riodinidae) and Accessions (Papilionidae & Pieridae).  9 volunteers trained and 3 work experience graduates.

2007-2008 Organiser and Lecturer of 8 International Courses on Butterflies in basic, intermediate and advanced levels in Bolivia(2), Peru(1), Ecuador(2), Colombia (2) and Venezuela (1). 200 people trained. Selected lectures delivered: Museums and collections, IPM, Fundraising, Butterfly conservation, Macroecology, Butterfly diversity and practical sessions on: data analyses, species identification, use of keys, setting and preparing specimens.  Details on TABDP Project www.andeanbutterflies.org

1999. Examination board exam writer in Biological Sciences. National Test for University Admission, ICFES. National Testing Service, Bogotá, Colombia.

1996-1999. Teacher Assistant in Ecology. Undergraduate students in Biology. Universidad Pedagógica Nacional,

Publications

Insects

MERCKX, T., HUERTAS B., BASSET, Y & THOMAS, J. (In press) A Global Perspective on Conserving Butterflies and Moths and their Habitats. In: D.W. Macdonald & K. Willis (Eds). Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2. Wiley Publications.

HUERTAS, B. (2011) A new species of satyrid butterfly from Peru (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae: Euptychiini). Zootaxa. 2802: 63-68.

HUERTAS, B. & FAGUA, G. (2011) Distribution and conservation status of nominate Euptychia cesarense in the East Andes of Colombia. Zootaxa 2906: 66–68.

HUERTAS, B., RIOS, C. & LE CROM, J.F. (2009) A new species of Splendeuptychia from the Magdalena Valley in Colombia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). Zootaxa. 2014: 51-58

HUERTAS B. & Arias J. (2007)  A new butterfly species from the Colombian Andes and a review of the taxonomy of the genera Idioneurula Strand, 1932 and Tamania Pyrcz, 1995 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). Zootaxa. 1652: 27-40.

HUERTAS, B. & ARIAS, J..J. (2007) Estudio Preliminar de la entomofauna de la Serranía de los Churumbelos: Mariposas Diurnas & Escarabajos Coprófagos. En: Salaman, P.G.W. & Donegan, T.M. (Eds.) 2007. Estudios y Conservación en la Serranía de los Churumbelos: expediciones Colombia ’98 y Proyecto EBA Colombia.  Conservación Colombiana 3: 67-75.

HUERTAS B. (2004) Why are black and white and red all over? An overview of the biology of the Heliconiini (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae). Bull. Mus. Hist. Nat. Univ. Caldas, 8: 141-153.

HUERTAS, B.  (2004) The Genus Adelpha: Its Systematics, Biology and Biogeography (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Limenitidini) by K. R. Willmott, Book review. Bull. Mus. Hist. Nat. Univ. Caldas, 8: 360-361.

HUERTAS B. & ARIAS J..J. (2003) Dung Beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae) of the Churumbelos mountains, Cauca (Colombia ’98 Expedition). Bull. Mus. Hist. Nat. Univ. Caldas, 7: 215-228.

ARIAS J & HUERTAS B. (2001) Diurnal butterflies of the Churumbelos mountains. Altitudinal distribution and species diversity (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea). SOCOLEN: Revista Colombiana de Entomología, 27 (3-4): 169 – 176.

Birds

DONEGAN, T.M., AVENDAÑO, J.E., BRICEÑO-L, E.R., LUNA, J.C., ROA, C., PARRA, R., TURNER, C., SHARP, M. & HUERTAS, B. (2010) Aves de la Serranía de los Yariguíes y tierras bajas circundantes, Santander, Colombia. Cotinga 32: 72-89.

DONEGAN, T.M., COLLAR, N.J., ELLERY, T., GILES, O.A.R., HUERTAS, B., OLACIREGUI, C., SALAMAN, P., SWIFT, B. & TORO-M, J.L. (2010) Photographic record of Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum from the Santa Marta Mountains, Colombia. Cotinga 32: 105-106.

DONEGAN. T., AVENDANO, J., HUERTAS, B. & FLOREZ, P. (2009) Avifauna de San Pedro de los Milagros, Antiquia: Una comparación entre colecciones antiguas y evaluaciones rápidas. Bol. Cient. Muse. Hist. Nat. 13 (1):63-72.

DONEGAN, TM, HUERTAS BC, BRICEÑO-L ER, AVENDAÑO-C JE & DONEGAN MD. (2008). The first biological explorations of Serranía de los Yariguíes, Colombia.  Neotropical Birding 3: 38-43.

DONEGAN TM, AVENDAÑO JE, BRICEÑO ER & HUERTAS BC. (2007) Range extensions, taxonomic and ecological notes from Serranía de los Yariguíes, Colombia’s new National Park.  Bull. British Ornithologists' Club. 127(3): 172-213.

DONEGAN TM, AVENDAÑO JE & HUERTAS BC. (2007) Una posible nueva localidad para el amenazado Loro Orejiamarillo (Ognorhynchus icterotis) en San Pedro de los Milagros, Antioquia. Conservación Colombiana 2: 85-86.

DONEGAN T. & HUERTAS B. (2006) A new Brush-Finch in the Atlapetes latinuchus complex from the Yariguíes mountains and adjacent Eastern Andes of Colombia. Bull. British Ornithologist’ Club 126 (2):  94-116.

DONEGAN T., HUERTAS B & BRICEÑO E. (2005) Discovery of a population stronghold of Gorgeted Wood-Quail Odontophorus strophium, a critically endangered Colombian endemic, with notes on its ecology and vocalisations. Cotinga 25: 74-77.

DONEGAN TM, HUERTAS B. & BRICEÑO E. (2003) Status of the Magdalena Tinamú Crypturellus saltuarius in the type locality and surrounding upper Magdalena Valley. Cotinga 19: 34-39.

DONEGAN TM. & HUERTAS BC. (2002) First mainland record of Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorus for Colombia. Cotinga 17: 77-78.

DONEGAN T. & HUERTAS B. (2002) Record of a pair of Barbary Doves Streptopelia risoria in Norte de Santander department, Colombia. Bol. Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología Vol. VIII (N. 24-25): 73-76.

Reports and online publications

HUERTAS B. & WILLMOTT K. (2006) Manual for digital photography. Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project. 15p. Published on line: http://www.mariposasandinas.org/supporting_files/manual_fotos_TABDP.pdf.

WILLMOTT, K. & HUERTAS B. (2006)  Manual to use the database of the Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project. 21p. Published on line: http://www.mariposasandinas.org/supporting_files/manual_basededatos_TABDP.pdf.

HUERTAS B., & RIOS JC. (2006) Estudio de las Mariposas Diurnas de la Serranía de los Yariguíes y su Conservación. In: Huertas BC & Donegan TM (Eds.) 2006. Proyecto YARÉ: Investigación y Evaluación de las Especies Amenazadas de la Serranía de los Yariguíes, Santander, Colombia. BP Conservation Programme. Informe Final. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 7: 44-55.

HUERTAS B & DONEGAN TM (Eds.) (2006). Proyecto YARÉ: Investigación y Evaluación de las Especies Amenazadas de la Serranía de los Yariguíes, Santander, Colombia. BP Conservation Programme. Informe Final. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 7. 164 pp.  Available at: www.proaves.org

HUERTAS B. & ARIAS JJ. (2005)  Butterflies. In: Donegan TM & Huertas B (Eds.). 2005. Threatened Species of Serranía de los Yariguíes: Final Report. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 5: 36-39.

DONEGAN TM & HUERTAS B (Eds.) (2005) Threatened Species of Serranía de los Yariguíes: Final Report. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 5.  84 pp. Available at: www.proaves.org

HUERTAS BC. (2003)  Entomological surveys. In: DONEGAN TM, HUERTAS BC, BRICENO ER, ARIAS JJ. & GONZÁLEZ CE. Search for the Magdalena Tinamou. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 4: 33-34. Available at: www.proaves.org

ARIAS J & HUERTAS B. (1998) Entomology assessment. Pp. 26–28. In: Salaman P & Donegan T (Eds.) Colombia ’98 Expedition to Serranía de los Churumbelos. Colombian EBA Project Report Series 1: 26-28. Available at: www.proaves.org

Dissertations & Theses

HUERTAS B. (2004). Butterfly diversity in the Serranía de los Yariguíes: Elevational Distribution, Rapid Assessment Inventories and Conservation in the Colombian Andes (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea). Imperial College London, University of London. 99pp.

HUERTAS B. & RODRIGUEZ R. (2002). Design for a methodological strategy towards the exploration of the concept of participation for the purpose of the management of solid residuals. Universidad Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas, Bogotá. 70pp.

ARIAS J. & HUERTAS B. (2000). Butterflies collected by Colombia '98 Expedition in Serranía de los Churumbelos, Cauca state, elevational distribution and species diversity (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia. 80pp.

Others

HUERTAS B. (2010) Idioneurula donegani photo. The Museum of Life. Natural History Museum.

HUERTAS, B. (2009) Yariguíes Brush Finch Discovery Current Biology. Vol. 16 N 21.

HUERTAS B. (2006) Yariguíes Brush Finch Photograph. Brilliant Displays: 2006 Gallery. Nature: 444, 21-28 December.

HUERTAS B. (2006) Cover Photography of Bernard d’Abrera. World Butterflies. Hill Press, Australia. 272p.

RODRÍGUEZ I., AMADO M., HUERTAS B. & QUINTERO I. (1998) Handbook for Specialist Guides of Bogotá’s Botanical Garden: Jose Celestino Mutis. Colombia. 186pp.

HUERTAS B., RODRÍGUEZ N. & SANABRIA C. (1996) Isolation of Agrobacterium tumefaciens using soil samples and gall in dicotyledonous plants: extraction and characterisation of their plasmids. Resúmenes del Congreso Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas. Colombia. Ed. XXXI, pp.114-115.