NABOKV-L post 0006969, Fri, 25 Oct 2002 16:11:29 -0700

Subject
Fw: Nabokov's Butterflies News
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MessageEDNOTE: For newcomers to the list, I heartily recommend, Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates's book NABOKOV's BLUES -- a fascinating popular account of VN work as a lepidopterist.
----- Original Message -----
From: Johnson, Kurt
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 2:58 PM
Subject: RE: Nabokov's Butterflies News


Well, there is some "new information" out there on some of the critters in the world of Nabokov's Blues so an update seems appropriate. Here are two appropriate headlines (with details then below).

l. Nabokov's Cyclargus erembis Makes Appearance in US (or Does It?).

2. Nabokov Continues to Be Right: His Karner Blue May be Two Entities


OK. Headline 1: Nabokov's C. erembis, named by him from the Cayman Islands has been reliably reported in Florida. The initial report was by Dr. Thomas Emmel of the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera. The discovery of a vagrant (dispersed) population of C. erembis into the United States would mean both a new species for the U.S. fauna and also perhaps another entity to vie for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Readers of N-on-line may not know, but scientists, including a team on which I serve, are already in the process of filing for federal protection for Cyclargus thomasi (long repored in Florida but now in steep decline) and Cyclargus ammon (identified from Florida by me and others only last year, in just a few 'hold on' populations along the Florida coast). These "visits" to the U.S. shore express the long history of overwater dispersal of entities of the Caribbean butterfly fauna into and out of the United States based on various dispersal factors (esp. hurricane and other accidental transport). However, other workers in Florida have questioned whether the Emmel- reported entity is actually erembis. However, before this question could be tested (and while it is being tested) ANOTHER vagrant population was found along the Florida coast that seems even more likely to BE EREMBIS. Each of the three entities-- thomasi, ammon and erembis are thought to be distinguished by distinctive (1) wing characters (2) genitalic characters and (3) specific usage of a single foodplant, different in each case. THUS, a task force, comprised of me and some others is now pursuing these questions on behalf of the Florida State govt: Are we dealing with 2, 3 or 4 entities in Florida in Cyclargus?; if so, what names apply to them consistent with their occurrence elsewhere in the Caribbean? and which warrant federal protection if at least temporarily established in the U.S.? From what I have seen of the data it appears that each of thomasi, ammon, and erembis will be reliably identified from Florida at this time. I will keep you updated.

2. Headline 2. The International Taxonomic Listserve Reports that preliminary DNA tests by the Wisconsin state govt. authorities, investigating the incipient suspicion (voiced by me and others-- that the "true" Karner Blue (samuelis Nabokov) is only the eastern (Karner NY etc) entity (tied to the geological history of the old lake bed of Lake Albany and its Pine Bush Savannah) and not the same biological/evolutionary entity as the one called "samuelis" in the Oak Savannahs westward in Wisconsin) suggest that, indeed, two entities are involved. The question however, based on further study of course, is whether it is advisable to apply another name to the western population. The problem about whether to apply a new name arises from a conundrum in the Endangered Species Act that has not yet been addressed-- what do you do when you find out a federally protected entity (protected under a certain NAME by law) if found either to be (1) more than one entity or (2) misidentified!!!! This is actually amusing. Does the law follow the bug or the name? According to the law it follows the name, which can mean that the wrong bug is protected!!!!! This should be fun to watch, regarding how it plays out, esp. as the scientists and bureaucrats try to argue it out (we will need the "smoking man" from the X-files). Depending on hows crazy the "name" versus "bug" argument gets, It may be a prime example of eliciting the expression Dr. Frederick Rindge of the American Museum of Natural History (co-author of Echinargus huntingtoni, a Blue that Nabokov discovered but didn't bother to given an official name) used to make when annoyed-- a loud ARGGGGGG!!!!!

Hope this news is of interest.

KURT
Dr. Kurt Johnson