A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil / Guia dos Sphingidae da Serra dos Orgaos, Sudeste do Brasil
Language: Bilingual in English and Portuguese
The Mata Atlantica or Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil is one of the most threatened biomes in the world with less than 7% of the original forest remaining, and most of this highly fragmented. Despite the destruction, these forests are still of international importance and have been recognised as one of the highest priorities for conservation. In the heart of the Mata Atlantica in the State of Rio de Janeiro lie the Serra dos Orgaos (Organ Mountains).
Whilst recent years have seen a number of new field guides published on the birds of Brazil, there are few field guides to other animals. This book is the first to provide a comprehensive guide to all the 110 species of hawkmoths that have been recorded in the Serra dos Orgaos. For each species there is a detailed text which includes taxonomic nomenclature, distribution and flight times, along with key identification features. There are 37 colour plates illustrating all the species from above and below for males and females, and there are over 120 colour photos showing many of the hawkmoths in their natural resting postures. Using these illustrations, photos and text any keen observer, with no prior knowledge, should be able to readily identify any of the species described.
The book also includes several introductory chapters which cover general information on the Serra dos Orgaos and hawkmoth life history and development, and these chapters are provided in both English and Portuguese. The appendices also include a comprehensive list of larval host plants by genera.
Although the book focuses on the Serra dos Orgaos, many of the species covered have wide distributions across the neotropics. This book should therefore appeal not only to those interested in the hawkmoths of Brazil, but to a much wider audience.
Hawkmoths have an enduring appeal for their attractiveness, size, sheer power and their breathtaking diversity, particularly in tropical regions. This attractive volume deals with the 110 Neotropical species found in a small reserve which is part of the Atlantic Rainforest in south-eastern Brazil, and an additional 4 species that have been recorded close by. The introductory chapters are written in both Portuguese and English, and cover a preface, checklist of hawkmoths, introduction to the region, hawkmoth taxonomy, life history and development. The main text of the book deals with the individual species and is written in English only. For each species there is a reference to the original description, synonyms, type locality, common name where applicable, size, notes on world-wide distribution and tips for identification. There then follows 37 pages of colour illustrations showing both upper and under-sides of set specimens, illustrating both sexes where they are known. There are four pages of habitat photographs, and a final 10 pages of colour photographs of living moths. The work concludes with a number of appendices covering notes on a historic collector, the reserve, some details of key species, and notes on the host-plants of Neotropical Sphingidae, distribution of species by Province, a phenology table and detailed bibliography.
One of the appendices is a brief biopic of Henry Richard Pearson (1911 - 2004), an Englishman who was one of the first entomologists to study Lepidoptera in the region. He amassed a collection of more than 12,000 specimens, which he donated to the Museo Nacional of Rio de Janeiro.
There are many books available on world hawkmoths, a good many of them substantial monographs that are very costly to purchase. By comparison, this is a modest volume but very well produced, well written and packed with information. The quality of the colour reproduction are adequate for the set specimens, but very good for the habitat and live moth pictures--and the price is very attractive! The authors and staff of the Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu are to be congratulated on producing an inexpensive and informative guide to these moths, which will be of great help to visitors to this region of Brazil, as well as those in other parts of Neotropical South America and those with a general interest in the world Sphingidae.
- October 2011 Volume of the Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologists' Society
"This is a book on the hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos region of the state of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. The book is written in both Portuguese and English, and includes accounts of the 110 hawkmoth species found in the region. The book has 37 color plates of pinned moth specimens, 120 images of hawkmoths resting, and photos of their habitats. The book is divided into four chapters and six appendices. The introductory chapter is on the history of the Mata Atlantica (Atlantic Rainforest) of Brazil, and outlines how human development in the area has led to a destruction of this habitat. Fortunately, the Serra dos Orgaos region has survived major destruction and is considered one of the world's ten biodiversity hotspots, which includes over 20,000 plant species. Both Chapter 2, "Hawkmoth taxonomy and the species covered" and Chapter 3, "Hawkmoth life history and development" are useful for amateur entomologists as they describe common features of hawkmoths for identification, and provide background in sphingid systematics and life-history, both on a global and local scale. In Chapter 2, a table accompanies the text and lists the number of sphingid genera found in the Serra dos Orgaos. Chapter 3 includes valuable information on how to distinguish male and female hawkmoths.
While the first three chapters are only 1-2 pages in length, Chapter 4 is much longer and features the hawkmoths of Serra dos Orgaos. This chapter also includes notes on four additional species that have been found elsewhere in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Taxonomy follows Kitching and Cadiou (2000) and also the CATE Sphingidae website (Kitching et al. 2011). Each species account is fairly general, and includes the genus and species name, a reference to the original description, a list of synonyms, the type locality, forewing length, and distribution and diagnostic features. The list of species was generated primarily from the records of the late Henry Pearson who had amassed a collection of over 12,000 Lepidoptera specimens from the region.
Photographs of pinned adult specimens are superb. Each plate includes a dorsal and ventral photograph of both sexes, along with their scientific name. Taxa are listed by subfamily in the order of Smerinthinae, Sphinginae, and Macroglossinae. The quality of the images is high, and the photos are useful for identification. The only shortcoming of the plates is the absence of collecting data for the photographed specimens. Because there can be seasonal and regional phenotypic variation, it would have been useful to have these data included. Following the images of the pinned specimens, there are several pages that show photos of live, perched hawkmoths and their habitat. These images are of a high quality and are valuable as they show how some of the species perch. This section is the highlight of the book!
There are six appendices at the end of the book: (1) biography of Henry Pearson, (2) review of the Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA), a private natural reserve located about 70 km north of Rio de Janeiro in the Serra dos Orgaos, (3) list of specimens measured for forewing length data, (4) larval host plant list, (5) table of species recoded by municipality, and (6) table of species recorded at REGUA by month. While I found most of these appendices useful, the hostplant section seems rather incomplete, as it only lists the genus names of moths and hostplants. Because some hawkmoth genera feed on a variety of host species, I think it would have been more appropriate if species names of both moths and hostplants were listed.
Overall, the authors have done an excellent job compiling a book on the hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos. While this book covers the diversity of sphingids in a relatively small area in Rio de Janeiro state, the photographs are very well done and can certainly be used to identify species in surrounding areas. The authors write, "[we] hope that this book will encourage further interest and studies, from amateurs and professionals alike, into the hawkmoths of the Mata Atlantica and perhaps even lead the way for further publications on the remarkable and diverse Lepidoptera and wildlife of the region." (p. 7). I believe their wish will be granted, and I recommend this identification guide to anyone interested in Neotropical hawkmoths."
- Akito Y. kawahara, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History in TROP. LEPID. RES., 21(2):105, 2011
Checklist of the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos
Chapter 1: Introduction&o;
The Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlantica)
Where are the Serra dos Orgaos?
The Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA)
&b;Chapter 2: Hawkmoth Taxonomy and the Species Covered&o;
What is a hawkmoth?
The National Museum collection
&b;Chapter 3: Hawkmoth Life History and Development&o;
The stages of development
The seasons and climate
&b;Chapter 4: Species Accounts&o;
Format and data source
The 110 species recorded
The 4 additional species found in the state of Rio de Janeiro
I. The life of Henry Pearson
III. Specimens measured
IV. Larval host plants
V. Table of species recorded by municipality
VI. Table of species recorded at REGUA by month
Born in 1953, Alan graduated with a degree in Business Studies, then trained and worked as a professional accountant in the UK until he took early retirement in 2008. He now lives in south-east England, spending much of his time doing voluntary work for conservation organisations in the UK and overseas, including the RSPB and the World Land Trust. He first visited the Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA) in Brazil in 2001, and has been closely involved in its development ever since. He is also Secretary of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust which provides financial support to the REGUA project. He has been an avid birdwatcher since his school days, but in more recent years has become increasingly interested in Lepidoptera, and especially hawkmoths.
Alexandre is a professional entomologist working at the National Museum of Natural History and Anthropology Sciences in Rio de Janeiro. Born in 1960, he went to college in Rio and in 1983 joined the Museum as a trainee entomologist working under Professor Alfredo Rei do Rego Barros and Henry Richard Pearson. Between 1983 and 1991 he worked with Pearson collecting and studying hawkmoths in the Serra dos Orgaos, and many of the specimens collected during that period are now collected in the Museum collection. He first visited REGUA in 2001 with his friend Dr Jorge Bizarro, and since then has been involved in a number of research projects including the creation of a checklist of diurnal Lepidoptera found in the Tres Picos State Park.
Jorge was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1961 but spent his early childhood in East Timor where he developed a love of the tropics. He was educated in Portugal and graduated in medicine from Lisbon University in 1986, but then after a few years working in hospitals changed direction in line with his long-term interests in Lepidoptera. Between 1996 and 2002 Jorge completed an MSc and PhD at the Parana Federal University in Curitiba, Brazil and then became a University lecturer and consultant in the butterfly breeding industry. In March 2010 he started working part-time at REGUA as their Research Co-ordinator, but continues his research including the study of butterfly host plants, caterpillars and their life cycles.
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Related organisations include:
- Association of Tropical Lepidoptera
- Butterfly Conservation Society
- Kimmo's Lep Site
- The Lepidopterists' Society