Yunnan butterfly directory blooms with new species

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Kunming Institute of Zoology updated a new version of the Yunnan butterfly directory last month that includes 1,300 species, after 11 years of research and field study.

Li Xueyan, an associate researcher at the institute, who led the research team, said that the directory improves the species information of butterflies in Yunnan province, and provides a reference for butterfly biodiversity conservation.

Included are two new Chinese butterfly record genera, 18 new Chinese species, and 36 new species in Yunnan.

The directory shows that 1,300 Yunnan butterfly species accounted for 58.6 percent of the number in China.

Records from the 1990s showed that there were more than 600 species of butterflies in the province, Li said, adding that the checklist is the first of its kind for butterflies.

Yunnan has a unique geographic location with variable climates and a complex geographic environment, making it extremely rich in biodiversity, Li said.

“Butterflies are recognized as an indicator taxon to monitor biodiversity because of their sensitivity to environmental changes.”

Li said her team will continue to study the evolution, relationship between morphology and environment, and genetic conditions of butterflies to conserve their biodiversity.

“To discover how many species there are is one of the world’s most cutting-edge scientific issues,” she said.

Starting from Yunnan butterflies, the research team will explore more of Yunnan’s insect diversity. They are expecting that more directories will be published to help determine how many species of insects there are in Yunnan.

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Jorge Oliveira

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