Monday 9 March 2009.
The new species was discovered on Proyecto YARE, a research and conservation initiative by Fundación ProAves in Serrania de los Yariguies, Santander and funded by the BP Conservation Leadership Programme. During fieldwork in this previously unstudied region, Blanca Huertas and Cristobal Rios found a butterfly species that they could not identify. Among the distinguishing features are its unusually hairy mouthparts, reminiscent of a moustache! Further studies and comparisons with texts and in museums led Huertas to conclude that the species was previously undiscovered: and new to science. It was described and named as Splendeuptychia ackeryi and is now being referred to as the “Magdalena Valley Ringlet”. The description was published in a recent issue of leading scientific journal, Zootaxa.
On returning to the Natural History Museum, where she is the curator in charge of the butterfly collection, Huertas found further specimens of the Magdalena Valley Ringlet, among the three million butterfly specimens there. These specimens had laid without identification for 90 years.
The Magdalena Valley Ringlet has a highly localized range: known from Andean slopes bordering the Magdalena valley, including from near two ProAves reserves: the Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve in Santander and the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve in Antioquia.
As a result of discoveries such as this on Proyecto YARE and other fieldwork initiatives supported by ProAves, Serrania de los Yariguies was declared a National Park in 2005 and ProAves has established two nature reserves in the region.