Taxinomic list of world Lepidoptera

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Tue Oct 20 15:52:21 EDT 1998

>Unless I am mistaken, the Check List the Classey published in conjunction
>with the Moths of America North of Mexico series contains just such a
>list (will someone kindly correct me if I am wrong?).

Time to raise a potentially ugly topic (as if we haven't had our fill
lately ;-) - I know that for a great many orders, the families recognized
by researchers *outside* of North America are often quite different, with a
generally large number of things that are considered subfamilies in the US
classified as full families (occasionally the converse, as in the recent
classification by Hanson & Gauld of all bees being in a single family
Apidae). If someone needs the full hierarchy of the Lepidoptera, how do
they know *which* of the alternative versions they should follow? "Gee, I
always thought Tawny Emperors and Hackberry Butterflies were Nymphalids,
but here they're listed as Apaturids!"
        If Jonathan is not a practicing biologist and accustomed to this
sort of stuff, isn't this likely to be rather confusing? Moreover, isn't it
a disservice if we *don't* tell him that there is no consensus and likely
never will be? It really *would* be nice if people could sit down and
actually work out a consensus view, and establish a standard taxonomy, but
I don't see it happening until and unless people come to a consensus on how
to *do* taxonomy in the first place...


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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