Dr. Hebert’s innovative work has advanced our understanding of global biodiversity, making the identification of species easier, which in turn helps support global conservation efforts. By devising a method that allows the quick and efficient discerning of species, he has transformed biodiversity science.
DNA barcoding has many applications in the classification and monitoring of biodiversity. It can help protect endangered species, control agriculture pests, and identify disease vectors.
His innovative approach has sparked discussions and debates around the role of novel methodologies in taxonomy.
Dr. Hebert’s recognition with the Benjamin Franklin Medal demonstrates the critical role of biodiversity studies in dealing with global challenges such as the biodiversity crisis. He has inspired a generation of scientists to push the boundaries of knowledge and drive innovation in research technology.
We at Pensoft extend our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Paul D. N. Hebert on this well-deserved recognition. He continues to lead the way in unravelling the complexities of global biodiversity.
The annual gathering is a crucial platform for sharing insights, innovations, and knowledge related to biodiversity data standards and practices. Key figures from Pensoft took part in the event, presenting new ways to improve the management, accessibility, and usability of biodiversity data.
Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pensoft, gave two talks that highlighted the importance of data publishing. His presentation on “The Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH): A Crosspoint and Knowledge Broker for FAIR and Linked Biodiversity Data” underscored the significance of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data standards. BKH is the major output from the Horizon 2020 project BiCIKL (Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library) dedicated to linked and FAIR data in biodiversity, and coordinated by Pensoft.
The theme of the conference was “Monitoring Biodiversity for Action” and there was particular emphasis on the development of best practices and new technologies for biodiversity observations and monitoring to support transformative policy and conservation action.
Metabarcoding & Metagenomics’ editor-in-chief, Florian Leese, was one of the organisers of the “Standardized eDNA-Based Biodiversity Monitoring to Inform Environmental Stewardship Programs” session. Furthermore, the journal was represented at Pensoft’s exhibition booth, where conference participants were able to discuss metabarcoding and metagenomics research.
Following the conference, Metabarcoding & Metagenomics announced a new special issue titled “Towards Standardized Molecular Biodiversity Monitoring.” The special issue is accepting submissions until 15th March 2024.
Asian Mycological Congress2023
The Asian Mycological Congress welcomed researchers from around the world to Busan, Republic of Korea, for an exploration of all things fungi from 10-13 October.
Titled “Fungal World and Its Bioexploitation – in all areas of basic and applied mycology,” the conference covered a range of topics related to all theoretical and practical aspects of mycology. There was a particular emphasis on the development of mycology through various activities associated with mycological education, training, research, and service in countries and regions within Asia.
As one of the sponsors of the congress, Pensoft proudly presented a Best Talk award to Dr Sinang Hongsanan of Chiang Mai University, Thailand. The award entitles the winner to a free publication in Pensoft’s flagship mycology journal, MycoKeys.
Joint ESENIAS and DIAS Scientific Conference 2023
The ESENIAS and DIAS conference took place from 11-14 October and focused on “globalisation and invasive alien species in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions.” Pensoft shared information on their NeoBiota journal and the important REST-COAST and B-Cubed projects.
Polina Nikova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences received the NeoBiota Best Talk Award for her presentation titled “First documented records in the wild of American mink (Neogale vision von Schreber, 1776) in Bulgaria.” The award entitles her to a free publication in the NeoBiota journal.
XII European Congress of Entomology
Pensoft took part in the XII European Congress of Entomology (ECE 2023) in Heraklion, Crete, from 16-20 October. The event provided a forum for entomologists from all over the world, bringing together over 900 scientists from 60 countries.
The ECE 2023, organised by the Hellenic Entomological Society, addressed the pressing challenges facing entomology, including climate change, vector-borne diseases, biodiversity loss, and the need to sustainably feed a growing world population. The program featured symposia, lectures, poster sessions, and other types of activities aimed at fostering innovation in entomology. For Pensoft, they were a great opportunity to interact with scientists and share their commitment to advancing entomological research and addressing the critical challenges in the field.
Throughout the event, conference participants could find Pensoft’s team at thir booth, and learn more about the scholarly publisher’s open-access journals in entomology. In addition, the Pensoft team presented the latest outcomes from the Horizon 2020 projects B-GOOD, Safeguard, and PoshBee, where the publisher takes care of science communication and dissemination as a partner.
Hosted for the first time in Mexico, it attracted experts and enthusiasts from around the world. The congress featured plenary speakers who presented cutting-edge research and insights on various aspects of grasshoppers, crickets, and related insects.
Pensoft’s Journal of Orthoptera Research was represented by Tony Robillard, the editor-in-chief, who presented the latest developments of the journal to attendees.
Symposia, workshops, and meetings facilitated discussions on topics like climate change impacts, conservation, and management of Orthoptera. The event also included introductions to new digital and geospatial tools for Orthoptera research.
The 16th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions
4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference
The 4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference (ESP LAC 2023) was held in La Serena, Chile, from 6-10 November. Focused on “Sharing knowledge about ecosystem services and natural capital to build a sustainable future,” the event attracted experts in ecosystem services, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Organised by the Ecosystem Services Partnership, this bi-annual conference was open to both ESP members and non-members, featuring a hybrid format in English and Spanish. Attendees enjoyed an excursion to La Serena’s historical center, adding a cultural dimension to the event.
The conference included diverse sessions and a special recognition by Pensoft’s One Ecosystem journal, which awarded full waivers for publication to the authors of the three best posters.
Magaly Aldave of the Transdisciplinary Center for FES-Systemic Studies claimed first prize with “The voice of children in the conservation of the urban wetland and Ramsar Site Pantanos de Villa in Metropolitan Lima, Peru.” Ana Catalina Copier Guerrero and Gabriela Mallea-Rebolledo, both of the University of Chile, were awarded second and third prize respectively.
The event featured in-person and online participation, catering to a wide audience of researchers, academics, and students. It included workshops, presentations, and discussions, with a focus on enhancing understanding in biosystematics.
Pensoft awarded three student prizes at the event. Putter Tiatragu, Australian National University, received the Best Student Talk award and a free publication in any Pensoft journal for “A big burst of blindsnakes: Phylogenomics and historical biogeography of Australia’s most species-rich snake genus.”
Helen Armstrong, Murdoch University, received the Best Student Lightning Talk for “An enigmatic snapper parasite (Trematoda: Cryptogonimidae) found in an unexpected host.” Patricia Chan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, was the Best Student Lightning Talk runner-up for “Drivers of Diversity of Darwinia’s Common Scents and Inflorescences with Style: Phylogenomics, Pollination Biology, and Floral Chemical Ecology of Western Australian Darwinia (Myrtaceae).”
As we approach the end of 2023, Pensoft looks back on its most prolific and meaningful year of conferences and events. Thank you to everyone who contributed to or engaged with Pensoft’s open-access journals, and here’s to another year of attending events, rewarding important research, and connecting with the scientific community.
All journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.
In support of transparency and openness in scholarly publishing and academia, the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft joined the Journal Comparison Service (JCS) initiative by cOAlition S, an alliance of national funders and charitable bodies working to increase the volume of free-to-read research.
As a result, all journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.
The JCS was launched to aid libraries and library consortia – the ones negotiating and participating in Open Access agreements with publishers – by providing them with everything they need to know in order to determine whether the prices charged by a certain journal are fair and corresponding to the quality of the service.
According to cOAlition S, an increasing number of libraries and library consortia from Europe, Africa, North America, and Australia have registered with the JCS over the past year since the launch of the portal in September 2021.
While access to the JCS is only open to librarians, individual researchers may also make use of the data provided by the participating publishers and their journals.
This is possible through an integration with the Journal Checker Tool, where researchers can simply enter the name of the journal of interest, their funder and affiliation (if applicable) to check whether the scholarly outlet complies with the Open Access policy of the author’s funder. A full list of all academic titles that provide data to the JCS is also publicly available. By being on the list means a journal and its publisher do not only support cOAlition S, but they also demonstrate that they stand for openness and transparency in scholarly publishing.
“We are delighted that Pensoft, along with a number of other publishers, have shared their price and service data through the Journal Comparison Service. Not only are such publishers demonstrating their commitment to open business models and cultures but are also helping to build understanding and trust within the research community.”
said Robert Kiley, Head of Strategy at cOAlition S.
About cOAlition S:
On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles. Read more on the cOAlition S website.
About Plan S:
Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. Read more on the cOAlition S website.
By the time authors – who have acknowledged third-party financial support in their research papers submitted to a journal using the Pensoft-developed publishing platform: ARPHA – open their inboxes to the congratulatory message that their work has just been published and made available to the wide world, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.
This automated workflow is already in effect at all journals (co-)published by Pensoft and those published under their own imprint on the ARPHA Platform, as a result of the new partnership with the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, while making things simpler for everyone involved.
All the submitting author needs to do to ensure that their research funder receives a notification about the publication is to select the supporting agency or the scientific project (e.g. a project supported by Horizon Europe) in the manuscript submission form, using a handy drop-down menu. In either case, the message will be sent to the funding body as soon as the paper is published in the respective journal.
“At Pensoft, we are delighted to announce our integration with the OA Switchboard, as this workflow is yet another excellent practice in scholarly publishing that supports transparency in research. Needless to say, funding and financing are cornerstones in scientific work and scholarship, so it is equally important to ensure funding bodies are provided with full, prompt and convenient reports about their own input.”
comments Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.
“Research funders are one of the three key stakeholder groups in OA Switchboard and are represented in our founding partners. They seek support in demonstrating the extent and impact of their research funding and delivering on their commitment to OA. It is great to see Pensoft has started their integration with OA Switchboard with a focus on this specific group, fulfilling an important need,”
adds Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director of the OA Switchboard.
About the OA Switchboard:
A global not-for-profit and independent intermediary established in 2020, the OA Switchboard provides a central hub for research funders, institutions and publishers to exchange OA-related publication-level information. Connecting parties and systems, and streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of metadata, the OA Switchboard provides direct, indirect and community benefits: simplicity and transparency, collaboration and interoperability, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for its novel cutting-edge publishing tools, workflows and methods for text and data publishing of journals, books and conference materials.
All journals (co-)published by Pensoft are hosted on Pensoft’s full-featured ARPHA Publishing Platform and published in a way that ensures their content is as FAIR as possible, meaning that it is effortlessly readable, discoverable, harvestable, citable and reusable by both humans and machines.
Guest blog post by Harry E. Clarke, Independent Researcher
Many books on butterflies publish lists of their larval foodplants. However, many of these lists of larval foodplants have been copied from previous lists, which in turn have been copied from previous lists. Consequently, errors have crept in, and many plant names have long been superseded. This can result in duplicates in the list, with the same plant being given two different names. Most plant lists do not include the authority, which can make it difficult or impossible to identify which plant is being referred to. Some of these plants may not be used by butterflies in Europe, but elsewhere in their range. Or the plants may have been used in breeding experiments, but not used by the butterflies in the wild.
Many of these publications providing the larval foodplants of butterflies only provide the binomial name, without specifying the author. This can create problems in knowing which species of plant is being used, as the same plant name has been used in the past by different authors to describe different species. In some cases, distribution can be used to determine the correct species, but plants can often have similar distributions. For example, in the World Checklist of Vascular Plants, there are 40 entries for the plant with the scientific name Centaurea paniculata, which refer to thirteen different accepted species, depending on authors, subspecies, and variety or form.
Not quite so simple: updating the current lists of larval foodplants
With climate change and habitat loss threatening numerous species, the conservation of butterflies (and other animals) is becoming more important. Whilst many factors determine the distribution of butterflies, such as temperature and rainfall, their survival depends solely on the kinds of plants their larvae eat. Accurate lists of larval foodplants are therefore important to find out where to direct limited conservation resources for the best result.
What started out as a straightforward job of updating the existing lists of larval foodplants with currently accepted names turned out to be a far bigger job. Many of the lists are incomplete, and may vary throughout the range of the butterfly. Here, errors have crept in too. Many references provide incomplete, unverifiable information. Many species of butterfly lay their eggs off-host, rather than on the host plant. For example, the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)oviposits on tree trunks above where Viola species are growing. Consequently, oviposition records need to be treated with caution, depending on the species.
What do butterfly larvae eat, and why does it matter?
Butterfly larvae can be very fussy about which plants they can use. 20% of European butterfly larvae are monophagous, feeding on just one species of plant. 50% are oligophagous, feeding on a few different closely related plants, whilst 30% are polyphagous feeding on plants in many different families. The Holy Blue (Celastrina argiolus) can utilise plants in an astonishing 19 different families.
The oligophagous butterflies can be divided into two groups:
Oligophagous-monophagous (OM) – feeding on one plant species in one region, and another species in another region.
Oligophagous-polyphagous (OP) – feeding on several closely related species of plants throughout their range, usually in the same genus, or a closely related genus.
Plant preferences are only known for a few species of butterflies. For example, the English race of the Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) feeds on Milk-parsley (Peucedanum palustre), whereas in the rest of Europe it has been recorded on 62 other plants. The main larval foodplant of the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) is Common Nettle(Urtica dioica), although it will occasionally use other plants.
The survivability of larvae on different plants is largely unknown, except in a few cases where the butterfly species has been studied in detail. There are plants that larvae may be able to eat, but that would likely not help them survive to pupation.
Two species are known to switch their larval foodplant during their second year of development. The Scarce Fritillary (Euphydryas maturna),for example, switches from Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) to Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus). The Northern Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus centaureae) switches from Dwarf birch (Betula nana) to Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus).
The most delicious plants
For the first time, a list of the current accepted plant names utilised by 471 European butterfly larvae is presented, with references. Where possible, errors in previous lists have been removed. The list of larval foodplants doubled compared to previous published lists. This has resulted in a list of 1506 different plant species in 72 different families. 86 plant records are only known at the generic level. Larval foodplants of 25 butterfly species are currently unknown, which are mostly the “Browns” (Satyrinae), which probably feed on grasses (Poaceae), or possibly sedges (Cyperaceae).
Whilst most plant families are utilised by less than six butterfly species, a few plant families are particularly favoured, with grasses (Poaceae) and legumes (Fabaceae) being the most popular. Similarly, most plant species are only utilised by a few butterfly species, but the fine grasses Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) and Red Fescue (Festuca rubra) are favoured by a large number of butterfly species.
Taxonomic splits create problems. Where cryptic species are allopatric, records can be allocated on the basis of their distribution. But where cryptic species are sympatric, this will require a resurvey to determine the larval foodplants. It cannot be assumed that two cryptic butterfly species use the same plants, as something has to become different for them to evolve into separate species.
Future publications should ensure that old and ambiguous plant names are not used. Plant names should be specified with their full scientific name, as specified by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants. The World Checklist of Vascular Plants should be checked to ensure the currently accepted plant name is being used.
Fully documented records are needed of what larval foodplants butterfly larvae are utilising in the wild. To get a better understanding of usage, full details need to be recorded, including date, location, altitude, abundance, and larval stage. Abundance will help in the understanding of preferences. To allow records to be properly verified, evidence should be provided on how the larvae and plants were identified. Regional lists are also important – to help direct conservation efforts to the plants being used locally, rather than elsewhere. This list of larval foodplants is provided as a step towards a fully justified database, which will be updated as and when corrections are found. It highlights those 25 butterfly species whose larval foodplants are currently unknown.
The Red List of Taxonomists portal, where taxonomy experts in the field of entomology can register to help map and assess expertise across Europe, in order to provide action points necessary to overcome the risks, preserve and support this important scientific community, will remain open until 31st October 2021.
Within the one-year project, the partners are to build a database of European taxonomy experts in the field of entomology and analyse the collected data to shed light on the trends in available expertise, including best or least studied insect taxa and geographic distribution of the scientists who are working on those groups. Then, they will present them to policy makers at the European Commission.
By recruiting as many as possible insect taxonomists from across Europe, the Red List of Taxonomists initiative will not only be able to identify taxa and countries, where the “extinction” of insect taxonomists has reached a critical point, but also create a robust knowledge base on taxonomic expertise across the European region to prompt further support and funding for taxonomy in the Old Continent.
On behalf of the project partners, we would like to express our immense gratitude to everyone who has self-declared as an insect taxonomist on the Red List of Taxonomists registration portal. Please feel welcome to share our call for participation with colleagues and social networks to achieve maximum engagement from everyone concerned about the future of taxonomy!
Read more about the rationale of the Red List of Taxonomists project.
The Menetries’ tiger moth(Arctia menetriesii) is one of the rarest and most poorly studied Palaearctic moth species. Even though its adult individuals are large and brightly coloured, they are difficult to spot, because they aren’t attracted to light, they’re not active at night, and they fly reluctantly. Currently, the species only inhabits two countries – Finland and the Russian Federation, and is included in the Red Lists of both, as Data Deficient in the former and Vulnerable in the latter.
For 13 years, researcher Evgeny Koshkin of the Institute of Water and Ecology Problems of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences kept searching for the elusive Menetries’ tiger moth in its habitat in the Bureinsky Nature Reserve, 400 km north of Khabarovsk, Russia, but he only ever found it in 2018, in what was the first record of this species in 34 years in this region. That’s how rare it is.
After collecting eggs from a female moth, Koshkin documented the species’ biology under laboratory conditions and described its immature stages in the open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal Nota Lepidopterologica. For the first time, detailed photographs of all developmental stages of this species have been published.
In laboratory conditions, the development cycle of the Menetries’ tiger moth from egg laying to an adult individual lasts between 72 and 83 days. Out of the 105 eggs that the female moth laid in captivity, however, only 13 transformed into adults, and out of those, only four were able to spread their wings. In the last larval instar, about 75% of the larvae died immediately before pupation, and a number of metamorphosis anomalies were observed in the ones that survived.
This is the first time that such anomalies and morphological defects of pupae are documented in the Menetries’ tiger moth, and it is possible that they occur in a similar way in nature. Some metamorphosis anomalies manifested as larva-pupa intermediates due to disrupted molting, and pupae with severe anomalies produced adults that were unable to inflate their wings.
It is possible that the diet of the laboratory-reared larvae might have had something to do with the high mortality rate before pupation and the metamorphosis anomalies during it. Some of the larvae were fed on Aconitum leaves and larch needles during certain periods of their lives, and it is possible that toxic compounds found in these plants might have impacted their health and development. More research on larval diet would be needed, however, to confirm or reject this hypothesis.
Koshkin ES (2021) Life history of the rare boreal tiger moth Arctia menetriesii (Eversmann, 1846) (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae) in the Russian Far East. Nota Lepidopterologica 44: 141-151. https://doi.org/10.3897/nl.44.62801
Arctic habitats have fascinated biologists for centuries. Their species-poor insect faunas, however, provide little reward for entomologists – scientists who study insects – to justify spending several weeks or even months in the hostile environments of tundra or polar deserts. As a result, data on insects from the High Arctic islands are often based on occasional collecting and remain scarce.
“Our expedition studied the ecology of Ivory Gull”, Maria Gavrilo says, “but we also looked for other wildlife.” Because of the lack of data, scientists appreciate any observation on insects they can get from the High Arctic.
On the island, the team found hundreds of small moths. They were identified by Dr Mikhail V. Kozlov of the University of Turku, Finland, as Larch Budmoths – the first and only terrestrial invertebrate to ever be observed and collected on Vize Island. Their observations are published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Nota Lepidopterologica.
The scientists first observed live and freshly dead moths on the sandy banks of a pond near the meteorological station. Then, they saw hundreds of them at the sandy bottom of a river valley with shallow streams. Moths, single or in groups, were mostly found at the water’s edge, along with some fine floating debris. Despite extremely low daily temperatures (+2-5°C), flying moths were also spotted on several occasions.
The larvae of Larch Budmoth feed on the needles of different coniferous trees. Because Vize Island is located 1000 km north of the tree limit, the scientists can be sure about the migratory origin of the moths observed on Vize Island. They were likely transported there on 12–14 July 2020 by strong winds coming from the continent. The nearest potential source population of Larch Budmoth is located in the northern part of the Krasnoyarsk Region, which means they travelled at least 1200 km.
Importantly, some moths remained alive and active for at least 20 days after their arrival, which means that long-distance travel did not critically deplete resources stored in their bodies. The current changes in climate are making it easier for more southerly insects to invade species-poor areas in the High Arctic islands – provided they can reach them and survive there.
“The successful arrival of a large number of live moths from continental Siberian forests to Vize Island has once more demonstrated the absence of insurmountable barriers to initial colonisation of High Arctic islands by forest insects”, concludes Mikhail Kozlov, who has studied Arctic insects for decades. “The Arctic islands will be colonised by forest insects as soon as changing environmental conditions allow the establishment of local populations.”
Gavrilo MV, Chupin II, Kozlov MV (2021) Carried with the wind: mass occurrence of Zeiraphera griseana (Hübner, 1799) (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae) on Vize Island (Russian High Arctic). Nota Lepidopterologica 44: 91–97. https://doi.org/10.3897/nl.44.63662
An invasive leaf-mining moth, feeding on cornelian cherry, has been gradually expanding its distributional range from its native Central Europe northwards for a period likely longer than 60 years. During that period, it has remained under the cover of a taxonomic confusion, while going by a name shared with another species that feeds on common dogwood.
To reproduce, this group of leaf-mining moths lay their eggs in specific plants, where the larvae make tunnels or ‘mines’, in the leaves. At the end of these burrows, they bite off an oval section, in which they can later pupate. These cutouts are also termed ‘shields’, prompting the common name of the family, the shield-bearer moths.
During a routine study into the DNA of leaf-mining moths, Erik van Nieukerken, researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands, discovered that the DNA barcodes of the species feeding on common dogwood and cornelian cherry were in fact so different that they could only arise from two separate species. As a result, Erik teamed up with several other scientists and amateur entomologists to initiate a more in-depth taxonomic study.
Curiously, it turned out that the two species had been first identified on their own as early as in 1899, before being described in detail by a Polish scientist in the 50s. Ironically, it was another Polish study, published in the 70s, that regarded the evidence listed in that description as insufficient and synonymised the two leaf-miners under a common name (Antispila treitschkiella).
Now, as a result of the recent study undertaken by van Nieukerken and his collaborators, the two moth species – Antispila treitschkiella and Antispila petryi – have their diagnostic features listed in a research article published in the open access journal Nota Lepidopterologica.
“We now establish that the species feeding on common dogwood, A. petryi, does not differ only in its DNA barcode, but also in characters of the larva, genitalia and life history,” explains Erik van Nieukerken. “A. petryi has a single annual generation, with larvae found from August to November, whereas A. treitschkiella, which feeds on cornelian cherry, has two generations, with larvae occurring in June-July and once again between September and November.”
While van Nieukerken and his team were working on the taxonomy of the moths, David C. Lees of the Natural History Museum, London, spotted a female leaf-miner in the Wildlife Garden of the museum. Following consultation with van Nieukerken, it turned out that the specimen in question was the first genuine A. treitschkiella ever to be found in Britain. Subsequently, the research groups decided to join forces, leading to the present discovery.
Despite the lack of data for the British Isles, it is already known that, in continental Europe, the cornelian cherry-feeding species had established in the Netherlands and much of Germany in the 1990s.
With common dogwood being widely planted, it is now suspected that A. petryi has recently reached Sweden and Estonia, even though there was no previous evidence of the leaf-miner expanding its range.
“This discovery should provoke the attention of gardeners and other members of the public alike to the invasive leafminers attacking some of our much admired trees and shrubs, as we have demonstrated for the cornelian cherry – a species well-known for its showy red berries in the autumn,” says David Lees.
“Especially in Britain, we hope that they check their photos for the conspicuous leaf mines, recognisable by those oval cutouts, to see if they can solve the mystery of when the invasion, which is now prominent on cornels around London, actually started, and how fast it progresses. Citizen scientists can help.”
van Nieukerken EJ, Lees DC, Doorenweerd C, Koster S(JC), Bryner R, Schreurs A, Timmermans MJTN, Sattler K (2018) Two European Cornus L. feeding leafmining moths, Antispila petryi Martini, 1899, sp. rev. and A. treitschkiella (Fischer von Röslerstamm, 1843) (Lepidoptera, Heliozelidae): an unjustified synonymy and overlooked range expansion. Nota Lepidopterologica 41(1): 39-86. https://doi.org/10.3897/nl.41.22264
An unknown moth, collected from Portugal 22 years ago, has finally been named and placed in the tree of life thanks to the efforts of an international team of scientists. The moth was unambiguously placed in the family of geometer moths (Geometridae), commonly known as loopers or inchworms due to the characteristic looping gait of their larvae.
The new species description is published in the open access journal Nota Lepidopterologica, along with a taxonomic review of the genus Ekboarmia, thought to comprise four species in the western Mediterranean area.
The first specimen, a male, was found in 1995 in Lagoa de Santo André, south of Lisbon, near the Atlantic coast. Despite its unique appearance, the specialists did not find enough similarities with any other European species, making its classification impossible. When three females were finally found following an intensive search in 2009, the team of scientists hoped they would find enough evidence to solve the mystery.
“The discovered females had different wing patterns compared to the males, suggesting sexual dimorphism, adding another complexity in the identification. This new species could not have been classified on the basis of external characters alone,” explains Dieter Stüning from Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, Germany.
In 2015, two specimens, a male and a female, have been DNA barcoded and recently became targets of detailed morphological examinations. DNA data played an essential role in demonstrating that the male and the female belong to the same species, whereas morphological structures finally provided unambiguous evidence to place the mystery moth in the geometrid genus Ekboarmia. The species name miniaria seemed appropriate to denote its small size. The tiny moth is the smallest in its genus whose other species are externally dissimilar.
Peder Skou from Denmark played a central role in the discovery of the species, tirelessly searching for more material to solve the questions. “Discovery of an undescribed and distinct macromoth from Europe is a rare occasion, because the continent’s fauna is probably the most exhaustively studied in the world,” explains Skou.
Pasi Sihvonen from the Finnish Museum of Natural History concludes: “Virtually nothing is known about the species. Altogether, only 11 specimens have been found between 1995 and 2011. Larvae of related species feed on juniper needles, which might also be the foodplant of the new species. We hope that the richly illustrated publication of the new moth will lead to new discoveries of this mysterious species. More data are needed, for instance, its conservation status cannot be evaluated due to insufficient life history and distribution data.”
Skou P, Stüning D, Sihvonen P (2017) Revision of the West-Mediterranean geometrid genus Ekboarmia, with description of a new species from Portugal (Lepidoptera, Geometridae, Ennominae). Nota Lepidopterologica 40(1): 39-63. https://doi.org/10.3897/nl.40.10440