On this website we address butterflies of the Southeast Asian islands (including the island New Guinea which is half Asian and half Oceanian). We follow the definition of “Malesian region” as used in the Flora Malesiana project including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.
Some of the most pressing issues facing scientists today are climate change, biodiversity and their complex interrelationships. Butterflies play an important role in these scientific investigations because their populations change quickly due to short life cycles and are sensitive to fine environmental changes because of specific habitat requirements (limited dispersal, specialized larval food plants, reliance on climate). Occurring in a diverse range of terrestrial habitats, recent studies have also shown that butterflies are declining more rapidly than birds and plants (UKBMS, 2018). All of these factors suggest that butterflies are suitable indicators for a wide range of species and habitats including other insect groups and thus, the majority of biodiversity. Many studies have also shown that butterflies are among the species responding the most to climate change, producing elevational or northward range shifts, affecting life cycles, flight times, and basic interactions (Caldas, 2012).
Thus, butterflies are not only valuable research adjuncts to some of the world's most pressing issues, but are worthy of conserving for their own intrinsic value, are critical ecosystem components as pollinators, prey and parasitized species, are indicators of healthy ecosystems (their abundance indicating a richness of other invertebrates), have an enormous aesthetic appeal, and are useful educational models due to their interesting life cycles, survival strategies, and aesthetics.
While attention to and knowledge of butterflies in western countries is significant, this is not necessarily the case for species-rich tropical areas. We are a consortium of museums and institutes hoping to bridge the spatial gap in available knowledge by establishing an internationally sponsored website of southeast Asian island butterfly species augmented by range and occurrence maps and photos. At the same time, we hope to improve the quantity and quality of southeast Asian island butterfly occurrence data through collective collection data submittal to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Map of Life (MoL). With the website and improved and globally accessible occurrence data and maps, we hope to stimulate and promote southeast Asian island butterfly research, education, conservation, and collection digitization.
1. United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, Butterflies as indicators [accessed 2018 November 20]. http://www.ukbms.org/indicators.
2. Caldas, Astrid. Spring 2012. Butterflies and Climate Change. North American Butterfly Association, Butterflies and Climate Change. American Butterflies [accessed 2018 November 20]; 20(1): 30-31. https://www.naba.org/pubs/ab201/ab201butterflies_and_climate_change.pdf.