Revision of A working checklist of butterfly species from Wed, 2013-03-06 14:37

The taxonomy and nomenclature of living organisms is constantly changing with our knowledge of the particular taxonomic groups and their systematics. So we have to acknowledge that any static checklist is just a snapshot of our knowledge, and will be out of date pretty soon.

We built a preliminary, working global checklist to use as a reference for our work (see Ferrer-Paris et al 2013 [REF]), but want to emphasize that we are summarizing data as provided by several authors with different levels of taxonomic expertise, and who might have different approaches to deal with taxonomic problematic species or species groups. Some regions are better explored than others and some taxonomic groups are better studied than others. There are many checklists available in different sources, but were are using a selection of those.

Sources used and totals per region/family

Regional checklists, (almost) all groups

  • Neotropical Checklist by Gerardo Lamas, first published in 2004, available in electronic format from taxome, but also accesible through TABDP, Butterflies of America.
    Includes 30305 names, 957 genera and 7787 species: 2435 Nymphalidae, 2365 Hesperiidae, 1326 Riodinidae, 1182 Lycaenidae, 339 Pieridae and 140 Papilionidae.
  • Afrotropical Checklist by Mark C. Williams, version from 2003 available in electronic format form taxome, with most recent versions available from Afrotropical Butterflies.
    Includes 11960 names, 302 genera and 3961 species: 1705 Lycaenidae, 1445 Nymphalidae, 520 Hesperiidae, 193 Pieridae and 98 Papilionidae.
  • Palearctic
  • Australian
  • Oriental
  • Europe
  • Nearctic

Worldwide checklist by taxonomic group 

  • Papilionidae Checklist from Globis/GART includes 2710 names for 554 species. Updated until 2010. Not available as a list, but can be navigated through a tree structure or using an index.
  • Checklist of Hedylidae from Scoble was published in 1990 [REF]. Hedylidae have been largely considered a sistergroup of Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea, and part of the "Rhopalocera" clade, but are normally not counted as butterflies, and not included in many checklists or compilations. Only recently have been placed within the larger, redefined Papilionoidea [REF]. They form a monobasic family with few species, much of the available information is summarized in the wikipedia page for the family
  • Hesperiidae (none)
  • Pieridae
    Checklist by Lamas includes 8650 names, 1095 species worldwide. Available from taxome, based on Bridges catalogue and updated until 2008.
    Globis/GART checklist includes 1825 names for 1108 species. Updated until 2010. Not available as a list, but can be navigated through a tree structure or using an index.
  • Nymphalidae.NET
  • Lybitheinae by Lamas includes 129 names, available from taxome.
  • Lycaenidae (none)
  • Riodinidae Checklist by Lamas (completed in 2008), available from taxome.
    Includes 3659 names, 1419 species worldwide

Worldwide compilation

  • In August 2011 the taxome page announced a "nearly completed entire list of butterflies of the world" by Gerardo Lamas, which will include 1,814 valid genera, and 18,732 valid species of butterflies, represented by 85,238 published names. This list is not yet public.
  • Markku Savela's website: Lepidoptera and some other Life forms, is not a proper taxonomic checklist, but rather a collection of names based on other sources (overlaps with some of the above), but is very well documented, rich in content and with relevant references for all names used, it has become a very popular resource among enthusiastic wikipedians and butterfly researchers, and has been widely cited ( Nymphalidae.NET and [REF], for example).  The data is not available as a file or plain list, but can be navigated using a hierarchy of links that reflects the taxonomical hierarchy used.
    In January/February 2012 we extracted 18769 names: 6280 Nymphalidae, 5359 Lycaenidae, 3992 Hesperiidae, 1419 Riodinidae, 1128 Pieridae, 574 Papilionidae, (14 erroneous/unplaced names?).

Updating the checklist with species described recently

Some recently described species are included in some sources, for example Pseudopontiinae in Markuu Savela's site, or also in the wikipedia, or wikispecies.

How many species are there in the world?

Estimates from different authors... and our compiled list

Details of totals

More species rich genera, tribes, subfamilies... 

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith