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Revista chilena de entomología

versión impresa ISSN 0034-740Xversión On-line ISSN 0718-8994

Rev. chil. entomol. vol.47 no.2 Santiago jun. 2021

http://dx.doi.org/10.35249/rche.47.2.21.23 

Scientific Note

Highest elevation record of endemic butterfly Albulina orbitulus lobbichleri Forster, 1961 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in Nepal

Registro de mayor elevación de la mariposa endémica Albulina orbitulus lobbichleri Forster, 1961 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) en Nepal

Bimal Raj Shrestha1  * 

Bhaiya Khanal2 

Sanej Prasad Suwal3 

1 Biodiversity Research and Conservation Society, Kathmandu, Nepal.

2Nepal Bio-heritage Forum for Resources Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal. E-mail: baya2000@live.com.

3Nature Conservation and Study Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal. E-mail: sanej100@gmail.com

Abstract

Albulina orbitulus lobbichleri Forster, 1961 is a rare butterfly subspecies endemic of Nepal. This butterfly has been recorded for the first time living at highest elevation of 4,815 m from the Himalayan region Mustang in West Nepal. This note updates the information on change in the altitudinal preference of this subspecies of butterfly.

Key words: Himalayas; Mustang district; rare; subspecies

Resumen

Albulina orbitulus lobbichleri Forster, 1961 es una rara subespecie de mariposa endémica de Nepal. Esta mariposa ha sido registrada por primera vez viviendo a 4.815 m de altitude en la región himalaya de Mustang en el oeste de Nepal. Esta nota actualiza la información sobre el cambio en la preferencia del rango altitudinal de esta subespecie de mariposa.

Palabras clave: Distrito de Mustang; Himalayas; rara; subespecies

Albulina orbitulus lobbichleri Forster, 1961 is the rare high Himalayan small-sized butterfly (Smith 2011a) belonging to the family Lycaenidae. It is commonly known as Greenish Mountain Blue. Subspecies lobbichleri has been reported and described from Nepal only (Smith 2011a; Gasse 2013). It was recorded for the first time by the German entomologist W.A. Forster who was here with the German Expedition team in the sixties. It was found distributed precisely in the two western Himalayan regions; Manang and Mustang within the elevational ranges between 2,500-4,511 m (Smith 2011a) and the central region of Nepal (Smith 2011b; Gasse 2013). In total, twenty-six individuals of the butterfly subspecies were recorded so far from the regions (Smith 2011a).

On September 20, 2020, a single male individual of A. o. lobbichleri was recorded at the elevation of 4,815 m within the geographical stands of 28.874297° N / 84.003804° E in Mustang, West Nepal (Fig. 1). This butterfly subspecies was recorded during an opportunistic survey. During the half an hour observation, the behaviors of the taxon we observed were; it has short flying periods (20-30 seconds) covering a maximum 10 m distance flight, mostly basking with folded wings in the alpine meadow grassland for approximately two minutes, and also found preferring open steppe slopes with dry bushes coverage for short periods. During the observation period, the taxon was sighted foraging the vegetations namely; Stellaria chamaejasme (Linnaeus, 1753) (Fig. 2) and Taraxacum officinale (Wiggers, 1881). Close morphological features were studied following the captured and released method and photographed in a natural position.

Figure 1 Recorded elevational range of A. o. lobbichleri in Mustang district, Nepal. / Rango de elevación registrado para A. o. lobbichleri en el distrito de Mustang, Nepal. 

The most reliable identical features of A. o. lobbichleri includes; forewings (FW) apex pointed with wingspan 26-30 mm; Upperside- male blue and female brown. Wings are fenced with black borders over with white fringes. Underside: FW grayish brown with four discal spots and one subcostal black spot encircled white; underside hindwings (HW) are assigned by conspicuous four bigger post discal white spots, three subcostal spots, and discal area with white blotch-like marking; the base of the HW suffused with bluish-green dust.

The finding of the new elevation record depicts the current distribution range changes of the butterfly and details its behaviors. But, the current number of individuals we recorded is the deficit number of individuals with the previous record. Habitat degradation due to developmental activities and food plant depletion by unmanaged overgrazing in the study sites were the observed conservation threats that lead the butterfly toward upward shift and decreasing individuals. The previous study has also the finding of the new high elevation record of the butterfly species Carterocephalus avanti (De Niceville, 1886) (Shrestha et al. 2018). Such extension could have coincided with global climate change (Shrestha et al. 2018). However, the extensive scientific study related to the spatial and temporal patterns of the butterfly species and their relation with associated environmental variables will provide additional information to support the further conclusion. Therefore, systematic scientific assessments are of utmost importance in such a globally prioritized Himalayan region of Nepal.

Figure 2 A. o. lobbichleri foraging on flower of Stellaria chamaejasme. Photo: Sanej Prasad Suwal. / A. o. laubichleri forrajeando sobre flores de Stellaria chamaejasme. Fotografía: Sanej Prasad Suwal. 

Acknowledgments

The authors are very grateful to the Nagao Natural Environment Foundation, Japan for the financial support of the butterfly research project in Mustang district. We would like to express our gratitude to the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation and National Trust for Nature Conservation-Annapurna Conservation Area Project for providing the research permission. We are also thankful to La Dorche Sherpa for identifying the vegetation.

Literature Cited

Shrestha, B.R., Magar, K.T., Gurung, M.B., Gaudel, P., KC, R. and Thapa, A. (2018) A new high elevation record of Carterocephalus avanti (De Niceville 1886) (Hesperioidea: Hesperiidae) from Nepal. International Journal of Entomology Research, 3(5): 34-35. [ Links ]

Smith, C. (2011a) Butterflies of Annapurna Conservation Area. Sigma General Offset Press, Lalitpur, Nepal. 154 pp. [ Links ]

Smith, C. (2011b) Illustrated Checklists of Nepal’s butterflies. Majpuria Publication, Craftsman Press, Bangkok, Thailand. 129 pp. [ Links ]

Van Gasse, P. (2013) Butterflies of India - Annotated Checklist. 1-161. https://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/images/PaulVanGasse/Butterflies_of%20_India-Annota ted_checklist-1.pdf . Accessed May 11, 2021. [ Links ]

Received: May 14, 2021; Accepted: June 06, 2021

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