Clear and Present Evidence

Neil Jones Neil at
Thu Apr 6 15:48:34 EDT 2000

In article <a7.2c5f0f9.261bb792 at> Boydtd at  writes:

> I agree that the status of tullia in N. America needs to be clarified.  My 
> experience of this species is mainly in Ireland, one of its European 
> strongholds.  According to the literature (The Moths and Butterflies of Great 
> Britain and Ireland, Vol 7 Part 1, 1987, Edited by Emmet and Heath) there are 
> three distinct subspecies or forms (not subspecies in sensu stricto) in the 
> British Isles, scotia in Scotland, polydama and davus in England while 
> Ireland has both scotia and polydama.  My experience here in Ireland is that 
> both scotia and polydama do occur, but so do all intermediates between them on
>  the same site. 

There is in general terms a cline. It may well be this that causes some
of the confusion in this group. Basically northern populations tend to
have smaller or fewer eyespots. This is an evolutionary reponse to
climatic change. Those with larger spots are more mobile and need
more protection from avian predation. In the norh where more time
is spent resting because of poor weather large spots make the butterflies
more visibile whilst resting.
The relationship between spot size and mobility is a very deeply embeded one
in satyrids. As I understand it research on Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown)
shows that those with more spots are more mobile. This is despite the fact
that the hindwing spots concerned are minute almost to the point of

> My comments obviously solve nothing, but they give a little background for 
> further work which is clearly needed on a holarctic basis.  Incidentally, 
> here we call this species the Large Heath Coenonympha tullia.  The Ringlet is 
> quite a different  species Aphantopus hyperantus.  Thank goodnes for Linnaeus!

Yes indeed. Then there are the Erebias which are also ringlets!

> Trevor Boyd (Butterfly Conservation, Northern Ireland)

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve

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