Purple Hairstreak name-change?

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Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Pawpawsaurus » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:01 pm

While browsing The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011, I was surprised to see the Purple Hairstreak's scientific name given as Favonius quercus. Indeed, the BC site in general seems to use this name, rather than Neozephyrus quercus, which I'm now used to.

Correctly or not, I tend to regard The NBN Gateway as authoritative for this kind of thing, so I searched it for the definitive name. It gives the Neozephyrus form as current and Quercusia quercus as an outdated designation. It doesn't mention Favonius at all.

Can anyone who cares shed any light on what the 'correct' name now is, before the taxonomists change their minds again?

Paul
Last edited by Pawpawsaurus on Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:27 pm

I had naively thought that scientific names were meant to provide stability against a welter of local 'common' names. There has been so much re-organisation in recent years that the binomial system appears to be failing - there seem to be many Genera with only one Species within them!

EDIT The following statement is incorrect - see Padfield's correction later in this thread [From a Google search, I see that Favonius quercus is attributed to Linnaeus, 1758, so it has good provenance.]

Other names result from different interpretation of the evolutionary 'tree'.

Mike
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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:02 pm

A recent taxonomy update is, I believe, on the BC European Interest Group website (which I can't access at the moment), with some explanation. Although that list is already out of date with recent DNA studies providing new information. And Purple Hairstreak isn't the only species getting shoved from pillar to post. The Large Blue genus has gone from Maculinea to Glaucopsyche to Phengaris.

Specific names appear more stable, although it's a shame they didn't correct errors such as "betulae" (birch), the specific name of the Brown Hairstreak (which feeds on prunus).

For now, UKB is sticking with the taxonomy from Bradley and Fletcher.

The subject of taxonomy is the next article I plan to tackle, BTW.

Cheers,

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Padfield » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:31 pm

MikeOxon wrote:From a Google search, I see that Favonius quercus is attributed to Linnaeus, 1758, so it has good provenance. Other names result from different interpretation of the evolutionary 'tree'.


I think Linnaeus gave the name quercus in 1758 (as Papilio quercus) but not Favonius. That genus was described by Sibatini and Ito in 1942 (see http://tolweb.org/Favonius).

I won't pre-empt Pete's article, but it's certainly the case that molecular methods of establishing phylogeny have thrown up some surprises and many taxa that were formerly considered cladal turn out not to be - most famously, and sadly, Maculinea! For that reason, many groups have been lumped into larger genera to preserve cladal integrity. At the same time, there has been much splitting at species level - which is why the large skipper is no longer venatus, the type having been named in Asia before it was recognised as a different species from the European butterfly (which is now faunus).

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Matsukaze » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:15 pm

I've never quite understood the problem some people have with betulae as a specific name. Even if it is the wrong kind of tree, it is still a tree and indicates that the larva is tree-feeding. Thecla, on the other hand, refers to either (a) a female follower of St Paul, or (b) a Bristol nightclub, and the connection with the Brown Hairstreak is lost on me.

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Padfield » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:28 pm

Matsukaze wrote:I've never quite understood the problem some people have with betulae as a specific name. Even if it is the wrong kind of tree, it is still a tree and indicates that the larva is tree-feeding. Thecla, on the other hand, refers to either (a) a female follower of St Paul, or (b) a Bristol nightclub, and the connection with the Brown Hairstreak is lost on me.


:D

But if it comes ultimately from the Greek theou kleios then Thecla means 'God's glory' - not such a bad name for the butterfly.

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:36 pm

Matsukaze wrote:I've never quite understood the problem some people have with betulae as a specific name. Even if it is the wrong kind of tree ...


I think that answers your misunderstanding :lol:

Perhaps I'm just from the school of thought where names should be meaningful!

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby David M » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:57 pm

When I was a kid this species was known as Quercusia quercus

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:27 pm

David M wrote:When I was a kid this species was known as Quercusia quercus


Indeed; the oakiest oak thing in oakland :)

Cheers,

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby David M » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:34 pm

I always found it the easiest name to remember even though the butterfly itself was elusive. It fair trips off the tongue just like the names of Bob Geldof's children. :)

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby m_galathea » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:38 pm

All far too confusing... perhaps we should just refer to butterflies through anagrams. The small skipper could become lark's pimples, and other species could be the leather wig and the ornate pig :lol:

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby David M » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:56 pm

LOL! Yes, we could have:

Scallop perm
Net girl
Bare width elm
Drab women - ow!

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:10 pm

padfield wrote:I think Linnaeus gave the name quercus in 1758 (as Papilio quercus)


Of course, you are correct, Guy - I only engaged brain after posting!

I also see that m_galathea has started us all on a new winter pursuit.

Mike

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:03 pm

Pete Eeles wrote:The subject of taxonomy is the next article I plan to tackle, BTW.

I shall look forward to that but I think I should also say "best of luck!"

I had a look at the Tree of Life project, which Padfield mentions in this thread. I happened to look at the 'blues' area (http://tolweb.org/Polyommatus/124059) and was staggered by the complexity of detail! At least within the UK, I shall stick to common names!

Mike

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Padfield » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:47 pm

MikeOxon wrote:I had a look at the Tree of Life project, which Padfield mentions in this thread. I happened to look at the 'blues' area (http://tolweb.org/Polyommatus/124059) and was staggered by the complexity of detail! At least within the UK, I shall stick to common names!


To my mind, the blues are a particularly good example of why we might need to think, heretically, perhaps, about separating naming from classifying. When I was in Aragón this summer I came across several colonies of the butterfly named in Tolman as Agrodiaetus agenjoi. There is absolutely no doubt about the identification. Any specialist would agree these were that butterfly. But there is great disagreement about what to call 'that butterfly'. Tolman calls it Agrodiaetus agenjoi, noting that some people consider this a subspecies of Agrodiaetus fabressei. Vila et al. (2010) claim to have established that it is actually a subspecies of Polyommatus (subgenus Agrodiaetus) ripartii, a species found in a different branch of the Agrodiaetus tree from fabressei.

The problem is that successive ice ages advancing and retreating shuffled and isolated the anomalous and furry blues in southern Europe to such an extent that each individual population now deserves a name, really. If a name could be attached to the population instead of to the species (as phylogenetically defined) then communication would be so much easier! I know exactly what I saw but I have little idea what to call it!

Here's a male agenjoi (or should I say, fabressei, or should I say, ripartii) showing off his furry patch:

Image

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Roger Gibbons » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:33 pm

The current list of European butterflies is on this page (the link is European butterflies) for anyone who is interested. This list is allegedly the final and agreed list that the taxonomists have agreed upon.

http://www.bc-eig.org.uk/Species.html

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Gibster » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:32 pm

Roger Gibbons wrote:This list is allegedly the final and agreed list that the taxonomists have agreed upon.


...until they discover an even more refined technique for classification... :?
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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Matsukaze » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:23 pm

Is there any particular reason the name of the purple hairstreak seems to change more than most?

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Padfield » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:29 pm

:D

I agree, that's a very useful document, Roger, and given how thoroughly the butterfly populations of Europe have been studied it is likely that most of the taxa in it are real taxa. In that sense it might well be definitive and final. But their taxonomic status is almost bound to change in the light of ongoing research. For anyone who's interested, the paper I referred to above, on the subgenus Agrodiaetus (Vila et al. 2010), is publicly available on the web and provides an enlightening insight into some of the current areas of research:

http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/pierce/publications/pdfs/2010_Vila_et_al_Agrodiaetus.pdf

I learnt about that paper because I wrote to Vadim Tshikolovets after seeing the taxonomy he used in his new book and he was kind enough to send me a copy. The same kind of problems arise with respect to several other groups - notably, the ringlets, heaths, graylings and brimstones.

An interesting consequence of 'splitting' species is that the conservation status of some of these small populations may be thought to go up! What's in a name? Quite a lot, if the name means a particular region is home to an endemic species...

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Re: Purple Hairstreak name-change?

Postby Roger Gibbons » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:37 pm

This might be of interest as well:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/taxome/jim/pap/des ... llet09.pdf

Roger


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