butterfly

Butterflies – AEAS精读 (Y10-12)

Butterflies are among the most extensively studied insects — it is estimated that 90 percent of the world’s species have scientific names. As a consequence, they are perhaps the best group of insects for examining patterns of terrestrial biotic diversity and distribution. Butterflies also have a favorable image with the general public. Hence, they are an excellent group for communicating information on science and conservation issues such as diversity.

Perhaps the aspect of butterfly diversity that has received the most attention over the past century is the striking difference in species richness between tropical and temperate regions. For example, in 1875 one biologist pointed out the diversity of butterflies in the Amazon when he mentioned that about 700 species were found within an hour’s walk, whereas the total number found on the British islands did not exceed 66, and the whole of Europe supported only 321. This early comparison of tropical and temperate butterfly richness has been well confirmed.

A general theory of diversity would have to predict not only this difference between temperate and tropical zones, but also patterns within each region, and how these patterns vary among different animal and plant groups. However, for butterflies, variation of species richness within temperate or tropical regions, rather man between them, is poorly understood. Indeed, comparisons of numbers of species among the Amazon basin, tropical Asia, and Africa are still mostly “personal communication” citations, even for vertebrates. In other words, unlike comparison between temperate and tropical areas, these patterns are still in the documentation phase.

In documenting geographical variation in butterfly diversity, some arbitrary, practical decisions are made. Diversity, number of species, and species richness are used synonymously; little is known about the evenness of butterfly distribution. The New World butterflies make up the preponderance of examples because they are the most familiar species. It is hoped that by focusing on them, the errors generated by imperfect and incomplete taxonomy will be minimized.

 

蝴蝶是被广泛研究的昆虫之一,据估计,世界上90%的物种都有科学名称。因此,它们可能是研究陆地生物多样性和分布模式的最佳昆虫群。蝴蝶在公众中也有良好的形象。因此,他们是一个优秀的群体,可以交流有关科学和多样性等保护问题的信息。

也许在过去的一个世纪里,蝴蝶多样性最受关注的方面是热带和温带地区物种丰富度的显著差异。例如,1875年,一位生物学家指出亚马逊地区蝴蝶的多样性,他提到大约700种蝴蝶在一个小时的步行路程内被发现,而在英国群岛上发现的蝴蝶总数不超过66种,整个欧洲只支持321种。这种热带和温带蝴蝶丰富度的早期比较已经得到了很好的证实。

多样性的一般理论不仅要预测温带和热带之间的这种差异,而且要预测每个区域内的模式,以及这些模式如何在不同的动植物群之间变化。然而,对于蝴蝶来说,温带或热带地区物种丰富度的变化,而不是人类在它们之间的变化,是知之甚少的。事实上,对亚马逊盆地、热带亚洲和非洲物种数量的比较仍然主要是“个人交流”的引用,甚至对脊椎动物也是如此。换句话说,与温带和热带地区的比较不同,这些模式仍处于编制文件的阶段。

在记录蝴蝶多样性的地理变异时,会做出一些武断的、实际的决定。多样性、物种数量和物种丰富度是同义词;对蝴蝶分布的均匀性知之甚少。新大陆蝴蝶是最常见的物种,因此在这些例子中占了绝大多数。希望通过对它们的研究,可以最大限度地减少由于分类不完善和不完整而产生的错误。