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Small sample, substantial contribution: additions to the Honduran hawkmoth (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) fauna based on collections from a mountainous protected area (Cusuco National Park)

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Abstract

With the largest part of diversity in the world absorbed by invertebrates, ignoring invertebrates in biodiversity surveys and monitoring of areas under conservation would give a strongly incomplete image. The poor knowledge of most invertebrate taxa and their enormous diversity limits most surveys to the better-studied groups. Hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) are one of the more charismatic and well-known groups among the Lepidoptera and hence a valuable group commonly used in biodiversity research. In this small-scale study, 42 museum specimens of sphingids from Cusuco National Park (Cortés, Honduras) were identified and compared to recent published accounts. This yielded three new country records and, in addition, four new regional records for the park. Some of the additions to the Honduran fauna probably result from recent taxonomic changes. However, the several contributions using a small collection of this well-studied group in an area which has attracted previous research interest, demonstrate the incomplete data availability and the necessity for more rigorous surveying. Several new records concern high altitude species, indicating the data gap in mountains. As elevation is an important determinant of sphingid community structure, sampling across an altitudinal range is recommended. This study also underpins the usefulness of a reference collection-based approach in particular, as many hawkmoth species are identified using subtle diagnostic characters.

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Acknowledgments

The people from Buenos Aires and Santo Tomas (vicinity of CNP) are gratefully acknowledged for their kind collaboration and guidance during field work; volunteers, students and staff members of Operation Wallacea in Honduras for data collection; the Honduran government for support, research and export permits via Administracion Forestal del Estado, Corporacion Hondureña de Desarollo Forestal (State Forest Administration—Honduran Corporation of Forest Development—AFE-COHDEFOR); J. Hogan (OUMNH) for his assistance in lab work; the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for research funding to J.M.N.-M.; J. Haxaire (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris) for help in identification and an anonymous referee for valuable additions to the manuscript. M.P.M.V. is recipient of a PhD grant from the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO—Vlaanderen).

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Correspondence to Maarten P. M. Vanhove.

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Vanhove, M.P.M., Jocque, M., Mann, D.J. et al. Small sample, substantial contribution: additions to the Honduran hawkmoth (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) fauna based on collections from a mountainous protected area (Cusuco National Park). J Insect Conserv 16, 629–633 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-012-9505-0

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