Thanks to all the volunteers who contributed to the freshly-completed transcription of images from the first batch of butterfly specimens from the Florida Museum of Natural History. This collection of images presented a unique set of challenges, since they represent material that originated in several smaller collections which were then united under one roof at the FLMNH’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. This means the tags and data associated with specimens are not standardized, and in some cases, there is data written on both sides of tags, requiring us to provide two images of each specimen. However, despite all of these challenges, data associated with these 468 specimens was transcribed in 13 days!
The first thing to which these data will be applied is developing better distribution maps of swallowtail butterflies. These specimens provide a vouchered record of where and when species can be found, and provide an especially valuable record of rare species that are not easily encountered by casual hobbyists, especially in remote areas of Southeast Asia and South America. We are interested in comparing closely-related species from these two regions to determine what role the pressures of paleoclimatic change may have played in determining their current distributions. This may offer clues to how future climate changes may affect these species, which have important roles as pollinators and as links in the food chain.
Thank you again, and be sure to check back soon for more FLMNH butterflies—our dedicated team of imaging volunteers is working hard to image more swallowtails and other groups, which we hope to post in a few months.
--Originally posted on Notes From Nature blog, 29 June, 2016
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