Biodiversity Inventories

Inventory of the Lepidopteran Fauna of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba

McGuire staff members Deborah Matthews and Jacqueline Y. Miller, together with Florida Museum colleagues Roger Portell, Terry Lott, and James Toomey are investigating the Lepidopteran fauna of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The unique dry tropical sub-montane to marsh habitats preserved on the base offer a rare opportunity to examine and compare the array of endemic and widespread lowland species and subspecies present with other Caribbean and Central American faunas. Nectar associations as well as larval host plants are also under study for specific taxonomic groups. This survey has resulted in various publications (e.g., on plume moths and blues) and an ongoing project database and species checklist. All specimens are deposited at the McGuire Center and tissue samples from representative taxa are deposited in the FLMNH Genetic Resources Repository.

Butterflies of Ecuador

Keith Willmott is working on long-term collaborative project with Jason Hall and other colleagues in South America and Europe, and the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (Quito), on the systematics, biology, evolution and conservation of the butterflies of Ecuador.

The main goals of field, lab and museum research include: 1). Improving knowledge of the distribution, behavior, habitats, and hostplants of Ecuador’s butterflies; 2). Identifying and classifying all taxa known from Ecuador, and naming all undescribed taxa, including those from other Andean areas if the taxonomic context is appropriate; 3) Building extensive collections of dried and alcohol-preserved material including promoting the development of a more comprehensive Ecuadorian national butterfly collection; 4) Promoting understanding and appreciation of entomology and conservation in Ecuador through training research assistants and students in techniques for butterfly collection, identification and research; 5) Building a national butterfly monitoring program in Ecuador. Learn more at:

Mexican Butterflies

With over 1800 species of butterflies reported from the country, Mexico is one of the ten most butterfly-rich nations on Earth. This vast diversity is a product of Mexico’s complex geography, climate, and varied botanical communities, and includes a high degree of endemicity; approximately 15% of Mexico’s butterfly species are endemic to the country. For over three decades, researchers currently at the McGuire Center have been studying the Mexican butterfly fauna, in collaboration with researchers at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, in Mexico City, and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, in Chetumal, Quintana Roo. This research has resulted in the discovery and description of various new species of butterflies, the compilation and publication of various state and regional lists, and has contributed a tremendous amount of new distributional information for many taxa through an ambitious databasing project.

Taiwan Lepidoptera Survey

This project is on-going since 1980, with numerous survey trips to investigate the Lepidoptera biodiversity of the island of Taiwan that have taken place in more than 20 years of research. Large collections continue to be made and studied, and two dozen specialists on various families are working on family treatments, under project direction of J. B. Heppner. Publications by the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera for the Taiwan Project include the basic Lepidoptera of Taiwan catalog (1992), listing over 3976 species of moths and butterflies known for Taiwan, and the first faunal synopsis (2007), illustrating in color about half of the species. Future series books will treat all the species in more detail.

Lepidoptera of Chile

This biodiversity project will catalog and treat the moths and butterflies of Chile, a region with a limited fauna but totally restricted and isolated from the Amazonian tropical fauna. A. O. Angulo and J. Heppner are principal investigators of this project.

Biogeography and Biodiversity of the Lepidoptera of Honduras

Honduras is a biodiversity hotspot and part of the Mesoamerican corridor, which was incomplete between North and South America until about 3-5.7 million years ago when a major faunal exchange began. The complex geography ranges from tropical lowlands along the northern coast and eastern tip (Moskitia) to a major block of highlands (Chortis Block), including a vast expanse of scattered isolated mountains with cloud forest and tracts of tropical dry forest. This country is of special interest to researchers as it exhibits a patchwork of habitats supporting some of the highest levels of biodiversity and endemism on earth. Together with the support of taxonomic specialists at various institutions, students, research associates, and ecotourism participants, Jacqueline Miller and Deborah Matthews seek to expand our knowledge and appreciation of the faunal diversity and natural history of this country.

Lepidoptera inventories in collaboration with Centro Zamorano de Biodiversidad, Escuela Agrícola Panamericana –Zamorano [EAPZ], The Lodge at Pico Bonito, and Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlantico [CURLA] resulted in a provisional checklist with nearly 2700 taxa recorded.  Our initial survey efforts focused on the northern coast, with additional records assembled from literature records and museum specimens from areas throughout the country. Field surveys by our collaborators at EAPZ and CURLA are ongoing. Specimens deposited at FLMNH continue to provide research and reference material for studies on the phylogeny, systematics, and biogeography of Lepidoptera of the region and several new species descriptions are in progress.

Lepidoptera of the Caribbean

Jacqueline Miller and colleagues Deborah Matthews, Mark Simon, and Gary Goss are continuing studies of Lepidoptera of the Caribbean Basin. This work includes identifying and cataloguing material, digitization, compiling island species lists and illustrated guides, and describing new species from specimens deposited in the McGuire Center Collections and other institutions. Recent field efforts have focused on inventories of Lepidoptera of the Lucayan Archipelago, stemming from previous long-term monitoring of Lepidoptera in the Bahamas. Future plans are to resume surveys of the Cayman Islands as well initiate investigations of the Turks and Caicos Islands.