Research

photo by YuSong Zhang

Butterflies of Guyana

This is a long-term project to study the butterfly fauna of Guyana in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Biological Diversity (CSBD), University of Guyana. Guyana is perhaps the least-studied country in South America in terms of its butterfly fauna. Situated on the northern coast of the South American continent, bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, approximately 80% of Guyana is covered by intact rainforest. The butterfly fauna of Guyana is characterized by its biogeographical position on the Guianan shield and the Guyanan tepuis, as well as receiving influence from the lowland Amazonian fauna. Despite its fauna being dominated by one of the most unique biogeographical regions in the neotropics, Guyana has received very little attention by entomologists compared to other Central and South American countries with a similar species diversity. There exist very few works published on its butterfly fauna, perhaps the most comprehensive and pioneering survey being Arthur Hall's studies published in 1939. Since then, only a few modern Lepidopteran expeditions to explore the southern interior region of Guyana have been conducted. Our current understanding of Guyana butterfly diversity represents just the tip of the iceberg, especially considering the lack of data from the vast lowland rainforest and isolated highlands in the south, which remain unexplored due to their relative inaccessibility. The limited available information on Guyana’s butterfly fauna suggests existence of some locally endemic species associated with southern highlands, as well as widespread lowland species, so in-depth study is likely to greatly enhance our knowledge of Neotropical butterfly classification as a whole. We therefore aim to investigate further the butterfly diversity of Guyana, conduct field work to enhance research collections, gather tissue samples for DNA data, and find out some basic information regarding their natural history to unlock this country's potential to serve as a natural laboratory. In addition, we plan to provide training opportunities in molecular techniques for undergraduate students at the University of Guyana. 

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Kaieteur Fall

(photo by YuSong Zhang)

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CSBD building

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An example of associated publication, see Publications for more relevant papers