new skippers described.

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Thu Jul 10 09:01:10 EDT 2003

Volume 4 issue #3 of TTR (The Taxonomic Report) was published July 5.
Three new subspecies of skippers in the genus *Hesperia* were described
from the southern US.  We had been putting the first page of all our papers
up almost immediately when published on our TILS web site (Taxonomic Report
section), and also the types in our photos section.   We are now going back
to our old policy of waiting some weeks to months before putting up the
photos and cover page.  This is simply a matter of business.  Subscribers
have the papers in hand this week (at least those in the US).   But
non-subscribers have been getting the core of the information from the web
site.   The result is that this year, for the first time, subscriptions are
down (about 20%).   We have an overall short fall this year of about $5000
which caused major reductions in several areas of research.

So, at this time, all that is up at the web site is the title banner in the
Report section.  This at least lets one know which taxa were described as
having new subspecies delineated.

To subscribe or order back issues.

Recognizing subspecific (within-species) entities is very important in
relation to conservation. Populations of most living things did not just
come into being where we now find them.   They have evolved over time and
space.  This is biogeographic evolution.  Thus, one may find two butterfly
subspecies very close to each other (say within 30 miles).   But this is
only where they are located today, and has nothing to do with how
"distinct" or "valid" they may be.  In fact, when we find subspecies that
nearly contact or actually do, it attests to the unique paths through time
and space those taxa have taken.

Assessing species from a subspecific evolutional perspective results is
whole new range delineations.  We may find that what we assumed was a wide
spread and common taxon, is actually multiple taxa within the species and
that one or more of these unique entities (subspecies) is actually rather
rare in nautre.  With the rapid degredation of habitats, we no longer have
years to research organisms so that all I's are dotted and T's crossed and
then publish.  Once the big picture is determined stuff needs to be
described.  Sometimes there may even be a loose end of whether X new taxon
is a subspecies or species.   I am not concerned with that.   I am
concerned that once recognized as a valid zoological taxon that they be
given an official status as a taxonomic taxon.   We have a very good
example of this in the paper we just did.

I and Marc Minno give a one page description of the Keys population of
*Hesperia meskei* as a new subspecies (*pinocayo*).   We ask the question
as to why it has taken so long for this subspecies to be described and
given official taxonomic status.  One answer is that various persons have
talked about describing the Keys segregate for about 40 years - but nobody
has done so and I got tired of waiting while watching this taxon diminish
in nature to what is now almost extinction.  It now has not only a name but
a delineated scientific standing.  In our remarks we call for immediate
conservation measures to be implemented.   This is now much more apt to
happen re State and Federal agencies as we can say *Hesperia meskei
pinocayo* needs help - rather than saying "the meskei _thingy_ on the Keys
needs conservation help including looking for it on the mainland on western

Subspeciation has come to be maligned in recent years in teaching.  This is
too bad as those who object to subspecies really have no grasp on what they
are all about.  The main thing that is not understood is that there is
nothing "sub" (as in inferior) about them.  I had been invited to give a
talk at the Lep Soc. annual meeting this year in Canada.  The topic I chose
was "subspecies are the future".   Unfortunately, I was not able to come up
with the funds to make it.  Wish I could be there.

Ron Gatrelle
TILS president
Charleston, SC - USA


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