Sunday, 13 December 2015

Genus special: Coenonympha (part II)

Second part in the Coenonympha special

Russian heath - Coenonympha leander
Distributed from the Balkan over Turkey to the Caucasus from 500-2000m, from hilly grasslands to subalpine zone.



Balkan heath - Coenonympha (leander) orientalis
There are several opinions on the status of this taxon, from being a subspecies of C. gardetta, a subspecies of C. leander to a species on its own. An article debating this can be found here.


False ringlet - Coenonympha oedippus
A lowland species, mostly found <500m, has declined seriously in Europe. Mostly found in wet grasslands, hence water management probably being one of the main reasons for the decline.

central Europe

Scarce heath - Coenonympha hero
Until the early nineties this species had a population in the south of Belgium. Changes in forest management, water level management, nitrification and maybe climate change have however induced a massive decline in the western distribution of this species so that nowadays - apart from a few populations in the very east of France - it has almost disappeared from France as well.  


Large heath - Coenonympha tullia
A species that has declined massively in NW-Europe and has disappeared from Belgium and parts of the Netherlands and northern France. Reasons for decline are probably a combination of nitrification, water level management, climate change,... 
I have only seen it once in northern Austria on a windy day so butterflies were difficult to get close by so I only have this vague picture. A variable species with lots of described local forms. The form depicted here is C. tullia tiphon.


Eastern large heath - Coenonympha (tullia) rhodopensis
The Balkan mountain replacement of previous species and in debate if a species on its own. Subalpine to alpine.

NE Greece


Dusky heath - Coenonympha dorus
To be found in the western Mediterranean area from central Italy over the south of France and Iberia to northwestern Africa.



Corsican heath - Coenonympha corinna
Endemic of Corsica and Sardinia, common on the islands.


Elban heath - Coenonympha (corinna) elbana
Closely related to previous species and nowadays mostly seen as a subspecies of Corsican heath. It is restricted to Elba and some smaller islands but can also be found on the opposing Tuscan coast where I could see the species.

Tuscany, Italia

Coenonympha saadi
A middle eastern specialty. From central Turkey over Transcaucasia into Iran.


Species fromt the Western Palearctic still missing in this list are mainly far eastern species, island specialties and species from northern Africa. All species I hope to see in the future...

Far east:
- Coenonympha (Triphysa) phryne: from the Crimea eastwards
- Coenonympha (Triphysa) dohrnii: unclear if in Western Palearctic, from eastern slopes of Ural eastwards.
- Coenonympha amaryllis: from southern Ural mountains to the east
- Coenonympha symphyta: endemic of Transcaucasia

Island specialities:
- Coenonympha thyrsis: endemic of Crete

Northern Africa: 
- Coenonympha arcanioides: from N Morocco over the Rif mountains to Tunesia
- Coenonympha vaucheri: high mountain species in Morocco
- Coenonympha (dorus) fettigii: from Morocco to Tunesia 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Genus special: Coenonympha (Part I)

One of my favorite genera is the genus Coenonympha, so here (the first part of) an overview of some - not all - Western Palearctic species:

Common Heath - Coenonympha pamphilus
In most of Europe a common to very common species, although in NW-Europe, Belgium f.i., declines have been noted - as in lots of common grassland species (Thymelicus sylvestris, Lasiommata megera). Like most Heaths this is a rather variable species, all pics from Belgium or northern France close to Belgian borders.

Coenonympha (pamphilus) lyllus
There is still debate about the status of this form/taxon. In most field guides lyllus is noted down as a southern form of Coenonympha pamphilus. Some literature however consider lyllus as a species on its own. It is still unclear to me what the exact distribution is of lyllus. It is described from southern Spain and can certainly be found in northern Africa, Spain (including Balearics) and Sardinia. Other sources also place the eastern Mediterranean populations under this name. If someone can get me a digital copy of following article I would be very grateful:
BOILLAT, H., 2003. Coenonympha lyllus Esper, 1805, spec. rev. une nouvelle approche taxinomique du complexe pamphilus. - Alexanor 22:243-309

Unfortunately I only have this vague picture of this taxon/form (southern Spain 2011 - 1430m), my first trip where I paid some attention to butterflies. Another reminder to take more pictures of common species during travels...

Luckily I did learn my lesson, this one is from Armenia from 2015. According to the Wiemers monograph on Coenonympha the determination clue should be the silver lining bordering the wing...
Another article discussing morphological characters of lyllus.


Pearly heath - Coenonympha arcania
A species common over large parts of Europe, not in the S of Iberia, the British Isles and some western parts of Europe, mostly below 1200m. In Belgium only present in the southern half.


N. France

Chestnut heath - Coenonympha glycerion
To be found in large parts of Europe, in Belgium it was always confined to the extreme south of the country but nowadays it is extinct although a wanderer from populations just south of the border is still possible...  



ssp. bertolis, a high mountain form of the SW-Alps of C. glycerion (France, Alpes-de Haut-Provence)

Coenonympha (glycerion) iphioides
In the Iberian peninsula C. glycerion is replaced by C. (glycerion) iphioides, still under debate if this is a species or a subspecies of C. glycerion. According to following genetic study iphioides is not a sister taxon of glycerion, so supporting the species hypothesis.


Alpine heath - Coenonympha gardetta
Widely spread in the Alps from France to Austria, mostly >1000m.

Switzerland, Graub√ľnden

C. Austria

Darwin's heath - Coenonympha (gardetta) darwiniana
Still under debate if this is a species or subspecies of Coenonympha gardetta or even a stable hybrid population between C. gardetta and C. arcania. To be found in the southern and soutwestern Alps.
An article discussing the status of darwiniana can be found here.
The results of an extensive - albeit a bit older - research can be found here.
Another article is this one, if someone can get me the full text I would be grateful.

Switzerland, Ticino

Switzerland, Ticino