|Arfak Mtns 1000m, Irian Jaya, Indonesia; ssp. misresiana (Specimen from Miguel Serrano)|
|Mt Jayawijaya, Irian Jaya, Indonesia; ssp. cythaerae: Coll: R Aronheim|
|Wanggar River, Irian Jaya, Indonesia ssp tithonus|
|Arfak Mtns, Irian Jaya, Indonesia; ssp. misresiana female (Specimen from Miguel Serrano)|
|Waigeau Island, Indonesia ssp. waigeauensis
"aberration." The data for this specimen cast considerable doubt on the
validity of the recently described ssp dominici (described from
the Tamrau Mountains by one Oliver Schaffler). If this specimen is indeed
from Waigeau (I have no reason to doubt the data), then the type of "dominici"
shown below is most likely a form rather than a true subspecies. Perhaps
the Tamrau Mtn population represents a group with a higher prevalence of
this gold aberration. I find the trend to designate every new population
that shows even a minor difference from others as a new subspecies both
arrogant and counterproductive to the study of population biology. So Called
"taxonomists" who are often no more than rich collectors that desire to
name and describe a new taxon, shamelessly grasp at trivial differences
between neighboring populations and use them to "make their mark" in the
scientific community. It is no surprise that the large and showy species
are the ones most frequently attacked by such divisionists.
Ornithoptera have in innate variability that often makes division into subspecies meaningless. Of COURSE different colonies from different regions will have a slightly different phenotype as each represents a small puddle of the species gene pool. This by no means indicates sub specific distinction. One can often tell a man of Japanese descent from a man of Philippine descent, or say Pakistani descent... Does this mean that we represent separate subspecies? of course it doesn't. Think about it.
Many species have fallen victim to this taxonomic "racism," notable Parnassius Apollo, Papilio machaon, Ornithoptera priamus and now croesus, paradisea, tithonus, goliath...
I commend the works of such authors as Tyler, Brown (Swallowtails of the Americas), Manfred Spaeth (Butterflies of the World series: Agrias) for their efforts to stress the interrelationships between species/subspecies and dispel some of the fragmentation brought by superfluous differentiation.
|Tamrau Mtns Irian Jaya Indonesia ssp dominici TYPE|
|Tamrau Mtns Irian Jaya Indonesia ssp dominici|
|Tamrau Mtns Irian Jaya Indonesia ssp dominici female|
Endemic to western New Guinea (Irian Jaya), populations
are declining in many areas although it is well protected in the Arfak
Mountain reserve where it is now ranched with O.
Coastal populations are not as lucky however, and the virgin forests that
it requires are slowly converted to farmland or logged and mined. The nominate
race is a lowland coastal insect confined to primary rain forest; misresiana
and cithaerea inhabit medium elevations if the
Arfak and Weyland mountains regions respectively. A newly described subspecies
(dominici) from the Tamrau Mtns in Irian Jaya is also
shown. Both the nominate race and the ssp from Waigeao are poorly known
and exceedingly localized.