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Wanted! Dead or alive: the tale of the Brown’s Grayling (Pseudochazara amymone)


The Brown’s Grayling (Pseudochazara amymone) is one of the most enigmatic and sought after species among European butterflies. Hiding its exact distribution for almost 40 years with the idea of protecting it, resulted in an increasing collector’s interest, with market prices reaching up to 1,000 euro for a single female after its discovery in Albania. Aiming to demystify this butterfly and enable entomologists and conservationists to see the species in its natural environment, we provide detailed information on its distribution in south-eastern Albania. In addition, we modelled the potential species distribution to facilitate further surveys within its potential range. The modelled range of P. amymone is highly fragmented stretching from the central part of eastern Albania to northern Greece and is strongly bound to ophiolite geological strata. The species was re-assessed as Endangered according to the IUCN criteria, with a predicted population decline due to construction of hydroelectric power plants in one of the locations. We argue that hiding valuable information regarding threatened insect species may have negative effects and we advocate publishing available distribution data so that conservation measures may be undertaken where and when necessary.

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We wish to express our thanks to Arthur van Dijk, Milan Đurić, Filip Franeta, Martin Gascoigne-Pees, Toni Koren, Branko Micevski, Nikola Micevski, Morten Mølgaard, Bosse van Swaay, Chris van Swaay, Duncan Trew and Irma Wynhoff for their help during our surveys in Albania and Chris van Swaay for useful comments on the first drafts of the manuscript. Funding for the initial survey was in part provided for by Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

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Correspondence to Rudi Verovnik.

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Verovnik, R., Popović, M., Šašić, M. et al. Wanted! Dead or alive: the tale of the Brown’s Grayling (Pseudochazara amymone). J Insect Conserv 18, 675–682 (2014).

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  • Lepidoptera
  • Nymphalidae
  • Satyrinae
  • Threatened species
  • Maxent
  • Species distribution model