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Guangzhou/ Halle/Saale. Chinese and German scientists have found a new butterfly species in the south of China. It is the first known species of the family of Large Blue butterflies which lives in mountain forests. The new species from northwestern Yunnan was discovered by Prof. Min Wang of the South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China and Dr. Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Halle, Germany. The species was described in the open access journal Zoo Keys (Volume 48, pp. 21-28; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.48.415) and was named Phengaris xiushani. With the name the scientist Dr. Xiushan Li is honored, who has rendered outstanding service to the cooperation of the butterfly researchers in Germany and China.
From the 15th to the 25th of June further workshops will take place within the German-Chinese year of Science and education, which can be witnessed in a Web-Blog at http://www.blog.dcjwb.net/.
The large blues belong to the most intensively studied group of butterflies in Eurasia, which is probably due to their "obscure" biology and ecology: On the one hand they depend on specific food plants, which in itself is not yet that surprising. But they also require particular ant species as many of the known species feed on ants during most of their life as caterpillars. These specialized habitat requirements have made them vulnerable to climate change and habitat alteration.
The discovery of the new species now was quite surprising, although contrary to the European species (which are well known under their scientific name Maculinea) the Chinese species, which include both the Maculinea and the Phengaris blues, are not so well studied and monitored due to lack of financial and personnel resources. Consequently, not
|Contact: Tilo Arnhold|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres