proactive on P. joanae and more

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Sat Jan 27 15:37:35 EST 2001

My reason for binging up P. joanae was not just to throw out a bone amid
the dogs to see em fight. I am a proactive lepidopterist and
conservationist. I am trying to bring the "unknown" thousands of
undescribed taxa to formal recognition which is why we founded The
International Lepidoptera Survey and its flagship publication The Taxonomic
Report. We are also trying to gain attention for the many "neglected" taxa
here in the US.  P. joanae is near the top of our list. Is this a species
or subspecies? Species. What is its actual range? There is totally
inadequate knowledge of its range.  Who is keeping it off the USGS list as
a species?  Does anyone want to see joanae become universally accepted as a
species only after it has become extinct? It is already as rare in natrure
as it is in butterfly books. Compaired to joanae, the Monarch is as common
as oatmeal.
When we first started we got a lot of encouragement from a key person in
The Nature Conservancy who told us he feels there is a real need for a
faster tract publication so newly discovered taxa in critical situations
can be validly published and become legally eligible for assistance. (He
told me up front that some of those in university situations were not going
to like this because their contracts require them to publish in  more
formal publications. The person who told me this is a Ph.D. entomologist.)
Other professional entomologists have encuraged us to ignore our detractors
and proceed.
We recently had an article published in TTR describing several new species
after its formal withdrawal  from the Journal of the Lepidopterists'
Society. This article had been languishing in the Lep. Soc.
editorial/review process since 1998. It was about 5 months from the time of
its submission to TTR and publication.
We strongly support the Lep. Soc. However, the quagmire (multiple year gap
from submission to publication of all the old methodology publications) and
deteriorating state (no AME Bulletin or J. on Research on Lepid. in years)
further necessitates more (not less) avenues of scientific taxonomic
The greatest pressure against butterfly taxonomy is the current
anticollecting sentiment This is because taxonomy can not occur without
dead specimens - many lepidopteran species can not be determined as such
without genitalic or DNA dissections. Some anticollecting segments have now
become educated enough to realize this. Their solution however is a farce.
It is to allow collecting only by highly restricted permit and university
or government researchers. What they do not yet realize is that the great
majority of taxa have been, are being, and need to be discovered/collected
by avocational and amateur collectors. Dr. so-n-so might have his name
after that of the species, but it was discovered and sent to him by Joe
collector while on vacation.
More to say but will save it for later.
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