Puerto Rico Lepidoptera

LepNet Request: Occurrence data and images for Puerto Rican Lepidoptera

Project motivation: Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic habitat destruction, widespread defoliation and tree mortality visible from space. The post-hurricane status of ecologically important insects, like Lepidoptera, is unknown. 

Project plan: Our work is designed to identify species and regions across the island that are most sensitive and most resilient to hurricane disturbances. We will do this by combining museum records with field surveys. The data collected by this project will test major ecological hypotheses and be used to develop conservation management plans for a future where hurricanes are more frequent and extreme.

Project needs: Long-term data is lacking and fewer than 10% of Lepidoptera from Puerto Rico have been digitized, making it difficult to contextualize species occurrences, recoveries or disappearances post-disturbance. What we need is to reconstruct Lepidoptera species occurrences, distributions, and diversity using museum records. The collection record in Puerto Rico dates to at least 1910 when the New York Academy of Sciences organized the single longest scientific inventory. Specimens from these surveys and others are scattered across institutions in the United States and other countries.

How you can contribute: Check to see if your collection contains substantial records from our wish-list of 99 Lepidoptera species. We’d love to include all species listed but we also indicate species with very high and high priorities.

Include these species in your digitization work-flow and upload to Symbiota. If you have lots of Puerto Rico specimens but cannot dedicate the time, please let us know that too!

Your contribution will be recognized by co-authorship on two manuscripts: 1) a manuscript proposed for Check List synthesizing all digital collection records from this effort and 2) a manuscript proposed for Methods in Ecology and Evolution describing the use and accuracy of LepSnap for rapid  species identifications in diverse tropical forests. We welcome collaborations on other manuscripts too.

Want more information? Contact Dr. Catherine Hulshof (cmhulshof at vcu dot edu).

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