Papilio machaon aliaska and Beringia

Jaakko Kullberg jaakko.kullberg at
Tue Mar 5 01:34:26 EST 2002

"Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX" <Norbert.Kondla at> wrote in message
news:6506849CAEBBE24E913A22806016E406F625E3 at

Hi again,
> A piece of speculation (in refereed journals) that I seem to recall seeing
> more than once is that butterfly 'x' moved to North America from
> Europe/Asia. I think I have even seen the reverse musing, where species
> is alleged to have moved onto Asia from North America. I find it
> that there seems to be little or no consideration of the possibility that
> Beringia itself may have created some species that are different from
> similar looking Asian and North American species.

This is exactly the situation. There are whole buntch of species which are
descriptive way considered to be merely Beringian than just holarctic or
invaders from the continent to other. Much work is done in co-operation
between American, Canadian, Finnish and Russian scientists, expecially
Noctuids (Donald Lafontaine, Kauri Mikkola and Vladimir Kononenko) have been
under study and revealed the there really is a lot of species (in so far
northern area) that are in fact strictly endemic to either or both sides of
Beringian strait e.g. the number of brachypterous Noctuids there is
remarkable especially among the Xestia spp. Lots of work has been done also
with Tortricidae and Geometridae. The reason for that is the fact that dry
continental climate has not produced distroying glaciars in the past. Much
work is of course needed, before the whole picture of the northern
distribution is possible to see as there is still remarkable lack of
information in the waste areas of e.g. Northern Siberia. However it seems
that on our side e.g. North Urals still have very rich fauna and several
former endemics of  Altai, Beringia and Alaska are happily flying there.
E.g. I was fortuned to collect during one night trip to a hill several of
those eastern "rarities" like Xestia albuncula, Dysgnophos mcguffini,
Kemtrognophos remmi, Napuca (=Aspitates) formosarius, taylorae, Xanthorhoe
majorata and a third one and at day Boloria distincta, Issoria eugenia and
so on. In my eyes only Nordic countries have been occupied by common species
;-(  The number of butterfly taxa (most of them are already detected
everywhere) in North Urals reveal the richness of the northern fauna there,
but Beringia is still even more species rich - probably because both the
possibility to have better permanent survival of species there and the
invasion of species over the strait. The only problem of butterflies is that
they are studied too much and there has classically always been differences
between specimens from here to there... ;-])

> What also interests me is the
> apparent inconsistency in the way that different butterflies are treated
> with respect to same or different species on the two continents. I have no
> magic answers but like many people have lotsa questions and some thoughts
> that differ from the thoughts of other people. Do the Asian 'machaon' only
> hilltop on mountain tops ?? or do they breed there as well.
Of course not as there is no foodplants there - they are just having sexual
competition there, but the distances they climb up to mountains are
remarkable. They are breeding in the northern areas, but not in dry mountain
tundra. They prefer merely wetland and there is plenty in the small river
and stream walleys. Also e.g. Nymphalis xanthomelas is eager climber have
you recorded that one in the Alska?

I wonder how
> many specimens of hudsonianus exist in collections under the name of
> just because they were collected on a mountain top and all the literature
> says that butterlfies on mountain tops must be aliaska :-)

:-) too!

> In my view the situation is not nearly as neat and clear as some
literature makes it out to be.

Definately not and trusting blindly in every publication won't make it
easier - unfortunately butterflies are very "occupied" group, but the number
of good studies is not necessarily as high as it should be if we look the
number of publications what is produced.



   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list