This is such a confusing topic. I’m probably asked about these names more than any other question about names. There is, unfortunately, no resolution to the question above, and indeed recent, still unpublished work by Ryan Hill working with Marcus Kronforst at Harvard suggests that ideas about Heliconius erato in Central America may have to be revised. Prepare for updates!
However, this was a topic that my colleague Jim Mallet had been interested in for a long time, as a denizen of Central America and Colombia many years before. Therefore, he wrote in 2006 to Gerardo Lamas, renowned as the expert who “maneja de manera diríamos casi “brutal”, la sistemática de prácticamente todos los grupos de mariposas diurnas del Neotrópico.” Mallet received this reply (parts of Mallet’s original email to Lamas is below).
In our work we have since been using this nomenclature.
Gerardo Lamas –> Jim Mallet 26 June 2006
Sorry for the delay in answering your mail of exactly a month ago,
but then there were lots of questions in it! (and did you get the
photocopies I asked for…?)
Anyway, here I’ll try to comment on your news and queries:
The erato subspecies found in Colombia are as follows:
- hydara (NE Panama, N Colombia)
- venus (SE Panama, W Colombia)
- cyrbia (SW Colombia)
- chestertonii (Cauca valley)
- colombina (Medellín area towards Muzo-Otanche) ["demophoon" of Brown]
- guarica (= euryas) (Magdalena valley)
- dignus (Putumayo area)
- lativitta (SE Colombia)
- reductimacula (SE Colombia)
H. e. cruentus is the subspecies found in W Mexico, W Guatemala and
El Salvador (i.e., the Pacific side); petiverana is found in the
Gulf side of Mexico, south to Nicaragua; demophoon goes from S
Nicaragua to W Panama. Demophoon and cruentus are more similar to
each other than either is to petiverana.
The melpomene subspecies found in Colombia are as follows:
- melpomene (NE Panama, N Colombia)
- vulcanus (W Colombia)
- new ssp. (Magdalena valley) [this is the "Neukirchen MS" ssp.; "euryas" of Brown]
- bellula (= mocoa Brower) (Putumayo)
- vicina (E Colombia)
- malleti (SE Colombia)
H. m. rosina occurs from Nicaragua to W Panama. The yellow-barred
form from the Magdalena valley (“ca. rosina” of Brown, equivalent to
erato colombina) doesn’t have a name either.
Hope the above is of some help.
Jim Mallet –> Gerardo Lamas 24 May 2006
I was recently asked a question about Colombian erato and melpomene names by Jean Francois [LeCrom, a Colombian entomologist of considerable note], and realize I don’t know the answer and also cannot deduce it from your checklist.
In Mexico, for Heliconius erato there are now two names which you have as valid subspecies — cruentus and petiverana. Are they both valid?
You have an erato name demophoon from Nicaragua, which is presumably the nearest thing to the Central American form from Costa Rica and Panama. But I guess the demophoon specimens probably have much narrower yellow hindwing bands, and are likely to look more like the Mexican things than Panama Costa Rica.
Does this use of demophoon mean the yellow barred, slightly iridescent form from near Muzo and Otanche in the Magdalena valley is unnamed? Or is it one of the other names you have scattered around from Colombia? In a way, this perhaps ought not to be called a subspecies at all, since it seems always polymorphic (Mauricio and I visited there). On the other hand, it probably represents a race that has been gobbled up by the hydara type in the rest of the Magdalena valley.
What is the “hydara type” from the rest of the Magdalena valley called? Is it now considered to be guarica instead of euryas? [N.B. Lamas found that the "euryas" type was actually a Heliconius erato form].
What is “colombina”?
You probably know that dignus is from the Putumayo in SE Colombia, and has a large mountain range and hundreds of km of pure hydara-like forms between it and the nearest other yellow-barred form near Muzo and Otanche to the N. Also the form of the yellow bar is very different — uniquely it is round-tipped, and not pointed.
I assume rosina must be the central American yellow-barred form.
You probably know this but bellula is from SE Colombia, on the Eastern slopes of the Andes and shouldn’t be confused with the rosina types to the North and in the Magdalena valley. It has a good disjunction consisting of most of the southern and central Magdalena, and also the mountain range.
So what is the Muzo Otanche form with yellow bar (now polymorphic). Does it have a name?
What is the form said to exist in the Magdalena valley. Should we just use melpomene melpomene?
What does “ac) [n. ssp.] Neukirchen, MS” look like and where is it from?
All the best, Jim