Compiler and date details
November 2015 - ABRS, update on classification of nonditrysian lineages
The valid or correct name is aligned with the margin. It is the name which should be used for the taxon. The valid name is the oldest available name except where the ICZN has ruled to set aside the law of priority to conserve a particularly well known name. If this has happened it is noted in the Checklist.
An available name is in roman type. It is a name which has been validly described according to the requirements of the Code. It may be the valid name for the taxon or it may be a junior synonym of the valid name.
An unavailable name is in italics. It is a name which has not been validly described according to the requirements of the Code. An unavailable name may be a misspelling, a nomen nudum, a manuscript name, a name first introduced in synonymy, a junior homonym, or an infrasubspecific name. Many unavailable names have been listed in the Checklist and it may be asked why. In the case of misspellings users are often in doubt as to which is correct and which wrong. Listing the prominent misspellings will indicate their status. Nomina nuda are listed so that the first available use of these can be reliably determined. They also help to explain why some curious nomenclatural situations have occurred. Names first introduced in synonymy and infrasubspecific names are listed because a careless subsequent use may validate them and, if they are listed then the subsequent literature can be searched more carefully.
A name is misspelled when it is spelled differently from that in the original publication. A name may be correctly spelled differently only when there is evidence in the original publication of a typographical error or an error in transliteration. Where this occurs a name may be emended, called a justified emendation. Where the original spelling is changed without this evidence it is called an unjustified emendation. Emended names are available.
Misspellings are so frequent that no attempt has been made to systematically list them all. A glance through Max Moulds' excellent and thorough Bibliography of Australian Butterflies, in which the author has carefully preserved original misspellings will indicate how many there are. Misspellings have been listed when they occur in works of particular importance. This has the unfortunate result that the most careful and valuable works often have more misspellings listed than more casual and less significant works which may contain a much higher proportion of errors. Misspellings have also been listed where they have received widespread use. As examples; Meyrickella torquesaria T. P. Lucas is a misspelling of Meyrickella torquesauria T. P. Lucas but it is the spelling most commonly found, and Ogyris zozine (Hewitson) is a frequent mispelling of Ogyris zosine (Hewitson). Misspellings have also been listed where the misspelling looks to be the correct spelling. For example Crypsiphona occultaria (Donovan) looks correct but it is a misspelling of Crypsiphona ocultaria (Donovan). It may be that in its original use it was misspelled but there is no internal evidence to indicate this and so the original is considered correct. A more complicated example where several views are possible is Cruria donowani (Boisduval). Misspellings are listed for generic names where they have been used in Australia or where they have been listed in Generic Names of Moths of the World or where the misspelling was used in the description of a new species. Some misspellings are so outlandish as to be scarcely recognisable. This sometimes happens when non entomologists are writing about insects. An example dating from about 1989, and of which the authors are entomologists, is Agrptos omfisa (Boisduval) for Agrotis infusa (Boisduval). These extreme misspellings are not listed.
Where the original author used more than one original spelling then the action of the first reviser must be followed. The first reviser must specifically choose one of the spellings, that is, he must mention both. Curiously the invaluable, thorough, and scholarly series Generic Names of Moths of the World has not been entirely consistent with this. The generic name Briarda Walker is given preference over Briada Walker because Walker himself subsequently used Briarda. This is no reason for choosing Briarda according to the Code and Nye, 1975, Generic Names of Moths of the World. Noctuidae. may well be the first reviser.
An original misspelling may be corrected where there is, in the original publication, evidence that the name was misspelled due to a typographical error. For example Xanthanomis steremochla Turner was the original spelling. However Turner gives the greek derivation of the name which shows that the intended spelling was Xanthanomis stereomochla Turner and this is the available name.
A nomen nudum is a name first published without a description or illustration which characterises the taxon or without a reference to an illustration or description. This seems to happen most frequently through the inadvertent use of a manuscript name. Nomina nuda are unavailable until associated with a description or illustration. They are listed in the Checklist so as to leave no ambiguity as to their status.
Manuscript names are names which are unpublished but are in circulation through use in collections or unpublished manuscripts. Although large numbers exist none are mentioned in this Checklist. Mention of a manuscript name in the Checklist would immediately transform it into a nomen nudum, a most undesirable outcome.
A name first introduced in synonymy may be available or unavailable depending upon how it has been treated subsequently. If a name first introduced in synonymy has been used as a valid name or as a senior homonym up until 1961 then it is available. If not it is unavailable. The introduction of names in synonymy can come about in several ways. An author, when describing a new species, may wish to indicate that specimens known under a different manuscript name belong to it. For example Tepper in describing Grammodes ocellata Tepper indicated in an errata at the front of his publication that it was the same species as Guest referred to as Grammodes cyanopa in a letter to Tepper. A manuscript name may be widely circulated and one of the recipients may realise it is a synonym of a previously described species. For example Lower in 1895 recognised that Meyricks manuscript name "Mormoscopa crossodora" was a synonym of Mormoscopa sordescens (Rosenstock). Accordingly he listed "crossodora Meyrick ms" as a synonym of M. sordescens (Rosenstock). Curiously this did not stop Meyrick from describing M. crossodora Meyrick as new two years after it had been correctly synonymised. Some publications are actually published (distributed) long after certain parts have been completed. A particularly unfortunate example was the careful, detailed and artistically brilliant work of A. W. Scott and his daughters. The manuscript was sent to England for publication in about 1851 (Ord,1988). For whatever reason it was not published and lapsed until 1864 when Scott privately published a small segment of it. Meanwhile Gray and Walker had "decribed" some of the species in Scott's manuscript, not from the manuscript although Gray at least knew what was in it, but from separately acquired material. Another segment of Scott's work was published posthumously by Olliff between 1890 and 1898. The plates of the book had been prepared in Australia prior to 1851 and it was not possible to alter the names on the engraved stone. So they were published with Scott's names but the accompanying text treated Scott's names as synonyms of, by then, older names. Scott's work was remarkably sound, for example, he has been the only author to give the correct synonyms for the genus Chelepteryx Gray. It must be admitted that the poor treatment Scott received encourages one to sink Troides richmondia (Gray) to the older Troides australis Swainson published inadvertently by Swainson in 1851 in a premature book review of Scott's work. It also contributed to the success of the voyage of the Austrian ship Novara in obtaining Australian Lepidoptera.
In some families there are quite a number of examples where manuscript names have been described by different authors. "Agarista ephyra" and "Sandava xylistis" are examples in the Noctuidae and the genus "Ogyris" and "Paralucia pyrodiscus" in the Lycaenidae. There is also a series of species in the genera Proteuxoa Hampson and Ectopatria Hampson described separately by Lower and Hampson or Turner and Hampson. Usually, unless there is a spelling change, the subsequent name becomes a junior homonym. However they can have different types or different type species and so need to be considered separately.
Order of Taxa. Taxa may be listed in alphabetical order or in an order which attempts to place closely related taxa together. The problem with alphabetical order is that closely related taxa may be widely separated in the Checklist. A linear listing of taxa evolved in complex evolutionary patterns can never be successful even with complete information. In many cases knowledge of phylogenetic relationships is so poor that lists are more nearly random. Nevertheless, at least some closely related species can be placed together and names may be easily found from the index. Different parts of the Checklist use different systems depending upon the preference of the author.
Area Included. The Checklist covers the continent of Australia and Tasmania and includes islands close to the mainland. Groote Eylandt, Elcho Island, Wessel Islands, Croker Island, Melville Island, Koolan Island, Monte Bello Islands, Rottnest Island, Wardang Island, Kangaroo Island, the Bass Strait islands and the islands of the Great Barrier Reef are all included. It does not include distant islands under Australian control, for example Ashmore Reef, Cocos-Keeling Islands, Christmas Island, Macquarie Island, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. This is straightforward except for the islands of Torres Strait. There are good arguments to include all the islands of Torres Strait which belong, politically, to Queensland and this has been done traditionally in Australian butterfly books. It produces the anomalous situation where Dauan Island is included which is within a few kilometers of the New Guinean coast and is essentially part of New Guinea. An alternative would be to include only those islands south of 10 S. Unfortunately this would exclude Darnley and Murray Islands from which a number of butterfly species are known which are not found elsewhere in Australia but in practice whether the political line is used or 10 S is used makes little difference because so little of the moth fauna of these areas is known. As more information becomes available where the line is drawn will become more significant. The Checklist uses 10 S as the limit but the few species only found north of this are listed separately.
Agreement in Gender. The Code Article 31 (b) states that a species-group name, if a Latin adjective or participle in the nominative singular or if latinised, must agree in gender with the generic name. The gender of generic names is often doubtful or arguable and few biologists today have the classical background to determine the origins of generic or specific names. Many Lepidoptera checklists of the past two decades have abandoned this archaic provision of the Code in the interests of the stability of nomenclature. This Checklist takes the simple and unequivocal course of expressing the species-group names in their original form, except where other provisions of the Code apply.
Reinstatement of unfamiliar names. It is intended that this Checklist serves as a benchmark for future studies on Australian Lepidoptera. We have not hesitated to apply the law of priority even when well known names become junior synonyms. The Lepidoptera, except the butterflies, are so poorly known and little published on that the strict application of priority will cause little or no inconvenience. Any application to the Commission for the suppression of the law of priority to preserve a well used name involves a long period of uncertainty. This period of uncertainty can be more destabilising than a simple name change. There are several changes to often used butterfly names which should be made. These are discussed in the notes.
Misidentifications. With a few exceptions misidentifications have not been mentioned in the Checklist. Nevertheless misidentifications are widespread in the literature and in collections. Indeed in some Australian collections there are more misidentifications in, for example the Cossidae and Castniidae, than there are correct identifications. The inclusion of known misidentifications would clutter the Checklist to the extent of making it unworkable. Many misidentifications in the literature cannot be detected which is another reason for omitting them. As an example of misidentification let us look at the three species belonging in the Lasiocampidae and Limacodidae which were described by Fabricius in 1775 in the first publication describing Lepidoptera from Australia, collected by Banks and his assistants on Cook's first voyage. Bombyx alphaea Fabricius has been traditionally regarded as a senior subjective synonym of Eloasa calida Walker (Limacodidae) but an examination of the holotype shows it to be Opsirhina hilaropa (Lower) (Lasiocampidae). Bombyx australasiae Fabricius has always been considered a senior subjective synonym of Pararguda nasuta (Lewin) (Lasiocampidae) but the holotype is a specimen of Pararguda cycloloma (Turner). Bombyx corones Fabricius has always been identified as Comana humeralis (Walker) (Limacodidae) although that name is a junior subjective synonym of C. albibasis (Walker). Turner was aware that this was incorrect but could not identify B. corones Fabricius. It is a senior subjective synonym of Comana miltocosma (Turner). Except for the original descriptions and later listings by Fabricius these names have been consistently misapplied throughout the literature.
Identification. This Checklist provides a complete list of names used correctly for Australian Lepidoptera and puts them into a modern taxonomic framework. An attempt has been made to solve nomenclatural problems and to establish correct species synonyms but in many groups the genera used are tentative. However the user cannot identify moths from this Checklist and the updating of names in old collections from the Checklist will not affect the numerous misidentifications in these collections.
Subspecies. In the Checklist subspecies are treated as synonyms with one exception. In the moth families synonyms from throughout the range (Australia and overseas) of the species are listed and no distinction is made for subspecies. In the butterflies, in some cases up to 70 subspecific names have been bestowed in one species and listing these would be unproductive. In the butterfly families the valid species name is listed followed by the valid name of the subspecies considered to occur in Australia. The synonyms then listed are only those which apply to the Australian subspecies.
Infrasubspecific names. Although not covered by the provisions of the Code these have been listed in the Checklist. This has been done because in most families the numbers are not large. Where they are frequent, as in the Noctuidae, the inadvertent elevation of these names to subspecific rank has occurred commonly and listing these names has assisted in detecting when they have been elevated to species-group names.
Species wrongly recorded from Australia. This can happen for two reasons. A species occurring in Australia may be misidentified as a species known from outside Australia. Due to these misidentifications there are many names in the literature which will not appear in this Checklist as misidentifications have usually been omitted. A species may also have been described from Australia or recorded from Australia on the basis of a mistaken locality. A species mistakenly recorded from Australia will often not be listed in the Checklist although some are, particularly if the record has been repeated in subsequent literature. In the moths, but not the butterflies, if a species was described and Australia incorrectly given as the type locality then the species will be listed as a reputedly Australian species and a note given to explain the circumstances.
Undescribed species. Possibly more than 50% of the Australian moth fauna remains to be described. This Checklist is a necessary step in consolidating previous knowledge to allow the description of the fauna to proceed in an rational way. The problems encountered in the preparation of this Checklist emphasise that species should, in future, only be described as part of thorough revisionary work. With one exception undescribed species are not listed in the Checklist. The exception is when a described genus is known only from an undescribed species in Australia. In this case it is listed as "species A". This does not imply that there is only a single undescribed species in that genus from Australia, there may be any number. Except in the Pyralidae replacement names are not proposed in the Checklist for names newly recognised as junior homonyms or for misidentifications. Replacement names depend on the adequacy of the description to which reference is made and in most cases such references are inadequate to characterise a species.
No available generic name. In some families the genera used are very tentative and not well characterised. Frequently species do not obviously belong to any recognised genus. In the preparation of the Checklist time was not available to dissect species or characterise genera on genitalic characters. The comment "no available generic name" should not be taken at face value as a generic name, unrecognised, may be available. The term merely implies that it is not known what genus the species belongs to.
This Checklist has been prepared from the following sources:
The Australian National Insect Collection has been carefully curated and provided specimens for examination of about 95% of the species recorded in the Checklist as Australian. It has not been possible to systematically examine collections in State Museums or private collections to check for unpublished records of species not otherwise known from Australia.
A complete file of the original descriptions of species described from Australia was built up. This permitted errors in date, original genus and spelling to be minimised. Identifications could also be checked against the original descriptions. This file contained many species where the type material came from outside Australia but was not complete for these species.
A file of photographs of the "types" of moths described from Australia. This file did not include photographs of all the "types" described from outside Australia although some of these species were included. Inevitably a proportion of types, both in Australian institutions and overseas could not be found. Many species were described from a syntypic series and in very few cases had a formal lectotype been designated. Most collections have one of the syntypes indicated as preferred lectotypes and these were photographed. All photographed specimens bear a label indicating that they were photographed for this Checklist and it is hoped tht in the interests of stability of the nomenclature this will be considered when lectotypes are formally designated. Instances where surviving syntypes did not belong to the species traditionally known by that name were found and these are discussed in notes. Also a number of instances were found where specimens marked as holotypes or as potential lectotypes could not be so either because they did not correspond with the original description or because they were acquired or collected after the original description was published. These are also discussed in notes.
Published literature such as catalogues, books and papers were used to establish synonymies and the identity of some species, particularly those described from overseas. The literature sources available were far from complete and constant problems were experienced. In particular determining the first reviser requires a complete examination of the literature and this was not possible. First revisers suggested in the Checklist should be regarded as tentative.
Proposed classification of the Lepidoptera.
Ebbe S. Nielsen & Ian F.B. Common
(- following family-group name indicate taxon not recorded from Australia.)
Hepialidae s. lat. (incl. 'primitive Hepialidae')
Roeslerstammiidae (= Amphitheridae)
Yponomeutinae (= Cedestinae)
Cemiostominae (= Leucopterinae)
Tortricinae (= Cochylinae)
Brachodidae (= Atychidae)
Sesiidae (= Aegeriidae)
Megalopygidae (= Aididae) -
Zygaenidae (incl. Lactura-group)
Tineodidae (= Oxychirotidae)
Nymphulinae (= Acentropinae, Lathrotelinae)
unassoc. with superfam.
Sematuridae (= Apropogonidae) -
Mimallonidae (= Lacosomidae) -
Ctenuchinae (= Amatinae)
Aganaidae (= Hypsidae)
Cuculliinae (= Dilobinae)
Regier, J.C., Mitter, C., Kristensen, N.P., Davis, D.R., van Nieukerken, E.J., Rota, J., Simonsen, T.J., Mitter, K.T., Kawahara, A.Y., Yen, S.-H., Cummings, M.P. & Zwick, A. 2015. A molecular phylogeny for the oldest (nonditrysian) lineages of extant Lepidoptera, with implications for classification, comparative morphology and life-history evolution. Systematic Entomology 40(4): 671–704 [Date published online 28 May 2015]
History of changes
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