EDNOTE: For newcomers to the list, I heartily
recommend, Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates's book NABOKOV's BLUES -- a
fascinating popular account of VN work as a lepidopterist.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 2:58 PM
Subject: RE: Nabokov's Butterflies News
there is some "new information" out there on some of the critters in the
world of Nabokov's Blues so an update seems appropriate. Here are two
appropriate headlines (with details then below).
l. Nabokov's Cyclargus erembis Makes Appearance
in US (or Does It?).
2. Nabokov Continues to Be Right: His Karner
Blue May be Two Entities
OK. Headline 1: Nabokov's C. erembis, named
by him from the Cayman Islands has been reliably reported in Florida. The
initial report was by Dr. Thomas Emmel of the Association for Tropical
Lepidoptera. The discovery of a vagrant (dispersed) population of C.
erembis into the United States would mean both a new species for the U.S. fauna
and also perhaps another entity to vie for protection under the Endangered
Species Act. Readers of N-on-line may not know, but scientists, including
a team on which I serve, are already in the process of filing for federal
protection for Cyclargus thomasi (long repored in Florida but now in steep
decline) and Cyclargus ammon (identified from Florida by me and others only last
year, in just a few 'hold on' populations along the Florida coast).
These "visits" to the U.S. shore express the long history of overwater dispersal
of entities of the Caribbean butterfly fauna into and out of the United States
based on various dispersal factors (esp. hurricane and other accidental
transport). However, other workers in Florida have questioned whether the
Emmel- reported entity is actually erembis. However, before this
question could be tested (and while it is being tested) ANOTHER vagrant
population was found along the Florida coast that seems even more likely to BE
EREMBIS. Each of the three entities-- thomasi, ammon and erembis are
thought to be distinguished by distinctive (1) wing characters (2)
genitalic characters and (3) specific usage of a single foodplant, different in
each case. THUS, a task force, comprised of me and some others is
now pursuing these questions on behalf of the Florida State govt: Are we
dealing with 2, 3 or 4 entities in Florida in Cyclargus?; if so, what names
apply to them consistent with their occurrence elsewhere in the Caribbean? and
which warrant federal protection if at least temporarily established in the
U.S.? From what I have seen of the data it appears that each of
thomasi, ammon, and erembis will be reliably identified from Florida at this
time. I will keep you updated.
2. Headline 2. The International
Taxonomic Listserve Reports that preliminary DNA tests by the Wisconsin state
govt. authorities, investigating the incipient suspicion (voiced by me and
others-- that the "true" Karner Blue (samuelis Nabokov) is only the eastern
(Karner NY etc) entity (tied to the geological history of the old lake bed of
Lake Albany and its Pine Bush Savannah) and not the same biological/evolutionary
entity as the one called "samuelis" in the Oak Savannahs westward in Wisconsin)
suggest that, indeed, two entities are involved. The question
however, based on further study of course, is whether it is advisable
to apply another name to the western population. The problem about
whether to apply a new name arises from a conundrum in the Endangered Species
Act that has not yet been addressed-- what do you do when you find out a
federally protected entity (protected under a certain NAME by law) if found
either to be (1) more than one entity or (2) misidentified!!!! This
is actually amusing. Does the law follow the bug or the name?
According to the law it follows the name, which can mean that the wrong bug is
protected!!!!! This should be fun to watch, regarding how it plays out,
esp. as the scientists and bureaucrats try to argue it out (we will need
the "smoking man" from the X-files). Depending on hows crazy the
"name" versus "bug" argument gets, It may be a prime example of eliciting the
expression Dr. Frederick Rindge of the American Museum of Natural History
(co-author of Echinargus huntingtoni, a Blue that Nabokov discovered but didn't
bother to given an official name) used to make when annoyed-- a loud
this news is of interest.