Collaborative Research: An integrative framework for comparative biology

The goal of this project is to reconstruct the evolutionary history of ALL 18,728 butterfly species!

All results and data will be publicly available through a website and via web services to catalyze synthetic research and cross-taxon studies. In addition, a variety of educational outreach efforts will target post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, and the public. This project will produce a set of online tools and databases for comparative studies. At the heart of the project is the assembly of an evolutionary tree incorporating nearly all known butterfly species.

What does this mean?

This project will allow researchers to access information about all existing butterfly species including their evolutionary relationships to each other, all in one location; something that does not exist at this time, (which creates a difficulty for those who study butterflies).

How YOU can help our project!

We are hoping for the assistance of citizen scientists to help us accomplish our goal. If you collect butterflies, we would like your specimens for our project. We will be studying the genetic information of each species of butterfly so donations are very helpful! To keep the DNA of the specimen in tact, butterflies can be stored in a freezer until they come to our lab. They can be kept in an envelope or stored in ethanol, but specimens should be fresh and kept cold if possible (heat will cause DNA to denature). Specimens can be mailed or dropped off at the museum (if you live locally, drop off is preferred to ensure freshness). PLEASE include collecting information with each specimen, such as the date and location it was collected, and the collector’s name.

Please mail specimens to:

Akito Kawahara
McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity
Florida Museum of Natural History
3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611

Any questions about this project or about sending us your specimens, please contact Samm Epstein at