Current Projects

The author is gathering information to accomplish the projects shown below. Most of his projects are in a very early stage in which the main activity is field work and keeping informatic databases updated. Each project is mentioned with its provisional name, a brief explanation of the objetives we attemp to achieve and some notes of the activities related follow.

Contribución al conocimiento distribucional de los lepidópteros ibéricos (I): Catálogo cartografiado de los Papilionoidea y Hesperioidea del municipio de Ordes.

The municipality of Ordes is located in the province of A Coruña, the territory lies on schits, it has a smooth relief, altitude ranging from 240 to 460 meters above sea level. The higher altitudes are located towards the north, and there the only granitic aflorations in the area are found . The proximity with the sea as well as being in the northernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, ensures a high rate of humidity, the weather has a strong Atlantic influence. The anthropic pressure is elevated, mainly due to forest plantations with alien species and the growth of crops. The territory is therefore a mosaic of typical habitats such as fragmentated atlantic Quercus forests, floodplain Betula and Alnus forests, wooded banks with Salix, Fraxinus and Alnus, atlantic humid heathlands dominated by Erica tetralix, traditionally sustained fields,...

The surface is slightly over 157 (km2). We plan to use an accurate grid system to catalogue the species ocurring in the municipality. The method chosen is 1*1 (km) MRGS, which is now used for mapping purposes mainly for very local species and National Parks. With such a precise cartography we pretend not only to provide very valuable and complete on the butterflies in Ordes for bigger zoogeography regions, but to be able to separate different distribution patterns in the studied area, as well as spotting the places with a higher priority to be conserved in order to keep local populations of rare or endangered species. The author is willing to extract more data, such as flying seasons and adverse effect of Eucalyptus forest and crops in the butterfly populations and diversity measurements.

The project was initiated in 2009 to condense all the knowledge the author had on the lepidofauna of his hometown, where he has collected since his early years. In 2010 the first organized prospections were done, from 1st July to 31st of August. During optimus days chosen 1*1 (km) squares were prospected for one and a half hours, checking representative locations that were previously spoted via satellite. We hope the homogeneity of this surveys to allow us to use the data statistically. During the two months 55 squares were surveyed twice each in order to find species with different flying seasons. This represents slighlty over one quarter of total grids, but more than the third part of the municipality surface.

So far, 62 species had been detected, and two more are awaiting confirmation. Of these, two might be vagrant species that had reached occasionally the area, one of this is a new record for A Coruña province (green are of the map). Five more species are excedingly rare, found in only one location or in very low numbers.

The project is to continue during 2011 with new prospections, we hope to improve some difficulties we found in 2010 without affecting the homogeneity of the results. The paper is due to be published in late 2012 or early 2013. In this time we expect to find more butterfly species in the area.

Contribución al conocimiento distribucional de los lepidópteros ibéricos (II): El género Cupido Schrank, 1801 in Galicia

The genus Cupido Schrank, 1801 comprises six species in the Iberian peninsula, two of which C. lorquini and C. carswelli are endemics found only in few localities of the southern mountain areas. The other species C.minimus, C. osiris, C. argiades (in the photo) and C.alcetas had been detected in the Autonomous Region of Galicia, some of the records are very recent.

C.minimus and C.osiris are inhabitants of chalkhill areas as they are strongly linked to the Fabaceae hostaplents which edafologic requirements are chalk substrate. The chalk areas in Galicia are limited to several narrow longitudinal, this allows us to figure that the distribution of those two species is very reduced in Galicia, C. osiris being probably the rarest as the zoogeographical records we have show that their populations only approaches the studied territory.

C. argiades and C. alcetas where for long considered to belong to another genus, Everes (Hübner, [1819]), but nowadays they are regarded within Cupido Schrank, 1801. C. argiades is a common butterfly with mygratory habits, it has been recorded for the four Galician provinces, but these records are not useful as they have not been followed a good methodology. The species seem to have spreaded in recent years from northern areas towars the south, and now it breeds in local populations scattered all over the territory. Because of it´s humidity requirements it is most likely to find this species in A Coruña and Lugo provinces, but it should also appear in the north of Pontevedra, as well as in the mountains from this province and Ourense province. C. alcetas has only been recorded in 2009 by the lepidopterologist Rafael Estévez, based on some examples located in Ourense province, and later in 2010 it was found in several locations of Lugo by Rafael Estévez and Alejandro A. Lázaro (author of the web). The discovery of this species is not casual, as recent records were published few years ago from León, a bordering province, in MANCEÑIDO-GONZÁLEZ (2008). The butterfly was previously known from Spain only due to its populations in the NE, being these new populations nearly 1000 (km) far away from the other records. We think know that the butterfly has spreaded westwards following wet enviroments in the Pyrinees and Cantabric Mountain Range, and that its distribution should be much bigger than known.

As a contribution to the knowledge of the distributions of these species, the author has recompilated unpublished data from his collections, contacted several Nature photographers to check their photos and to ask for a closer collaboration and planned several short trips with the aim os sampling the different 10*10 (km) MGRS squares where these species are most likely to live. Old bibliography has also been consulted in order to get data, but in most cases the records contained in them are not adequate to be recompilated in this project due to the lack of precision.

The basic scheme of the paper is already written, we are giving a short story on the records of these species in Galicia and adjacent territories, new records gathered by the author and collaborators with a very high accuracy (in order to guarantee their utility in future projects) and distribution maps for a quick understanding of their range.

Contribución al conocimiento distribucional de los lepidópteros ibéricos (II): El género Phengaris Doherty 1891 en Galicia.

The genus Phengaris Doherty, 1891, formerly regarded as Maculinea van Eecke 1915, comprises four species in the Iberian Peninsula: P. alcon, P. arion, P. teleius and P.nausithous, of which the first two had been recorded in the Autonomous Region of Galicia and P. nausithous is likely to be found in the future as there are nearby populations and suitable habitats for the species.

Butterflies of this genus are characterized by their myrmecophilus behaviour, this means that they stablish relationships with ants. Phengaris females ovoposite in the host plant (Gentiana, Sanguisorba,...) flowers and the caterpillars feed there until they reach the second instar, in that moment they fell to the soil and are carried by ants to their nest, where the ants feed them as if it was another, in some cases with ant larvae. The brownish chubby caterpillar pupates inside the ant nest and overwinters there, and in mid july the adult hatches in the early hours of the morning (when the activity inside the ant nest is in its minimum) leaving quickly the ant nest, as in its adult stage the ants are not friendly anymore. This symbiotic or parasite behaviour had been studied in depth by many biologist that felt astonished about the complex mechanisms that natural selection gave Phengaris in order to succeed.

The reason of this studies, were, in its origins, a desperate attemp to recover Phengaris alcon populations in the UK. Unluckyly the loss of its habitat led in 1979 to the extinction of the typical British strain. A highly-organised reintroduction programme brought to life this species again in the UK thanks to specimens from Sweden. In Spain the situation is not much better, the existence of P.arion is restricted to mountains and its status is not troublesome as far as mountain fields are held in a traditional way. The existence of this species in Galicia is restricted to the eastern mountains and it´s unlikely to be discovered in other locations. P.alcon is much more local, with scattered populations that in most cases stay uknown due to the high sedentarism of the species, which only flies a few meters aways of its foodplant. According with the bibliography we have been able to consult  there are six know locations where P. alcon inhabits in Galicia, two of them are not oficially announced yet, and a seventh one was obtained in 2010 by the author, thanks to two years of effort searching this species in Ordes municipality.

A third species may be found in the future in Galicia, P. nausithous which is by far the rarest species in Spain due to his strict requirements on foodplant, simbiotic ants, humidity level and use of fields. Some authors consider that the species could be found in the eastern mountains, next to the populations of León and Asturias province. The author considers also the option of a northern relictual population in ultrabasic soils (where the foodplant is very common) and at low altitude. Known population is Spain ranges from 1000 to 1200 (m) above sea level, but the special weather conditions in some locations of the northernmost part of Galicia could induce low altitude populations.

The discovery of any populations of these species are a very important fact for conservation, as all of them are, somehow, endangered by the loss of habitat and the disruption of traditional agricultural use.

The author is currently studying each 10*10 (km) MGRS square pointing suitable habitats for Phengaris alcon, most of them located in the northen provinces. He hopes to spot a high number of new populations, well by observing the adults or by spotting eggs in the hostplants. For that he search first the flat areas in each square using informatic cartography systems, later areas of higher humidity level are spotted thanks to the existance of stream spings and Salix vegetation and finally suitable habitats (Atlantic humid heathlands of diverse composition, specially the Gentiano pneumonanthe-Ericetum mackaianae association). Several trips are planned for the last week of July 2011, and further prospection will be held in 2012 and 2013, publishing the final paper later in that year.

The trips planned for searching Phengaris will also allow us to find Cupido specimens for our project in that genus as the adequate habitats for the first can be also used by the later.

Contribution to the taxonomic knowledge of Geometridae (I): Taxonomic revision of the genus Chrysocraspeda Swinhoe, 1893 based on morphology evidence.

Our most ambitious project being carried at the moment. The investigation is its earlier stage as we are still looking for foreign collaborators and for funds for this first class project. We have already confirmed donations of assorted heterocera (moths) specimens that most likely will contain some Chrysocraspeda. Along 2011 the author will hopefully receive material from Java and Borneo (Indonesia), Laos and Kenya. He also consider the necessity to travel himself to some remote places in order to sampling areas that could lead to huge discoveries. Chrysocraspeda are specially speciose in Madagascar, Sundaland and Papua, although this might be virstual as probable rich in Chrysocraspeda countries remain unexplored due to civil unrest and dangerous situation (DRC, Rwanda,...)

The genus Chrysocraspeda comprises 161 species according with Hausmann, the number could be easily higher as some papers could have been remained unconsulted due to its unavaliability. Furthermore there exist specimens in museum and private collections which most likely imply new species for Science. These tiny and endearing moths live mainly in lowland tropical forest from the paleotropical region (Africa and SE Asia), they usually show red, purplish and different tones of ocher.

There isn´t any previous work comprising knowledge on Chrysocraspeda, the only similar publication would be the Seitz volumens on Geometridae, but they´re fairly obsolete, as they are near one century old. For a comprehensive knowledge on this genus the author has to gather all existing papers on the matter, obtaining original description from Swinhoe, Prout, Viette, Herbulot,... it is a complete necessity, as well as checking and photographing the type material contained in collections.

This is a long term project that is divided in several subprojects, each of these will be carried in parallel to finally accomplish the main goal of his paper, which is to bring all known information of these moths in an orderly manner as well as giving further results such as description of new species, synonimies, distribution data and phylogenic relationship among the known species based primarly on morphology (the author is considering the possibility of include genetic evidences in this project). Involving people in the project, depicting specimens from fellow lepidopterologist, gathering data contained in bibliography and field work are some of these tasks.

It is of vital importance to raise fund for expeditions, visits to museums and equipment (bibliography on the topic, microscope, photographic camera,...)

Contribution to the taxonomic knowledge of Iberian lepidoptera (I): Iberian species and subspecies of Apatura Fabricius, 1807.

Apatura iris (Linnaeus, 1758) and Apatura ilia ([Schiffermüller], 1775) are the two species present in Spain. The distributional data we have for the first shows three disjointed areas where the species fly: the northern mountains (Cantabric Mountain Range and Pyrinees), the Central Mountain System and the Estrelha Mountain Range in Portugal. Some of these populations are scarcely represented in collections and therefore a good taxonomic status for those populations could not be guaranteed. We find the opposite case when referring to A. ilia, the populations where splitted in several subspecies when the knowledge of its distribution ranges was too limited, current knowledge show nearly jointed populations for Apatura ilia lusitanica Stichel,1908 and Apatura ilia asturiensis (Le Moult, 1946), what makes the author suspect asturiensis is a junior synonim of lusitanica. In addition A. ilia populations form a continous range from France to Galicia, with no geographic reliefs that could act as a barrier avoiding genetic exchange between populations, what could means both asturiensis and ilia are junior synonims of the nominotypical A. ilia ilia. A better knowledge on this matter would help us to undestand how Apatura ilia barcina evolved.

The author is gathering specimens all arround their distribution range (Spain, Italy, Greece, Europe and Russia mainland, Japan,..) with special regard to the Spanish and adjacent populations. The project is at the moment though to be based on morphology evidence but we would be pleased to study the genetics of the populations too.

This a long term project without an stablished date line. For the consecution of our goals we are in contact with lepidopterist from diverse country that do their best efforts to provide us with high quality specimens.