Supported by the Darwin Initiative and other sponsors

Project news
Student courses and grants

Participating countries, organisations and initiatives
Subscribe to mailing list
Click on a country name for information about participants
University College London
James Mallet, Blanca Huertas
Lead UK institution.
UCL and the Natural History Museum, London (NHM) worked to provide a taxonomic list online for all butterflies. Images of NHM butterfly type specimens have been made available as a result of this project.
McGuire Center for Lepidoptera
University of Florida

Keith Willmott
Lead US institution. The MGCL has one of the largest collections of neotropical butterflies in the world, and data are being recorded from specimens as part of this project.
Conservation International
The tropical Andean region is one of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots

The Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project is an international collaboration among scientists, institutions and organizations involved in research on the butterflies of the tropical Andean region. The project was established with funding from the United Kingdom's Darwin Initiative. The project's goals are to build a foundation for future research on butterflies in the region through training, building specimen databases, curating Andean butterfly collections, and developing a strategy for butterfly research and conservation in the tropical Andean region.

Project goal

To build a foundation for butterfly research and conservation in the tropical Andean region


The tropical Andean region for the purpose of this project is defined by the national borders of the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia

The project currently focuses on the butterfly families Papilionidae, Pieridae and Nymphalidae (c. 2000 species). Additional groups (Hesperiidae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae) are selectively covered.


Provide and improve resources for research on tropical Andean butterflies, including specimen collections, publications, databases and image archives

Increase the number of workers by encouraging students to conduct research on tropical Andean butterflies

Raise the profile of butterflies and establish a future strategy for research and conservation in the region

Activities (completed during the funded project timeframe of 2005-2009, or ongoing)

Resources (ongoing)
Curate and identify collections of collaborating institutions and individuals in tropical Andean countries, the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera at the University of Florida, USA (MGCL) and the Natural History Museum, London, UK (NHM)

Record distribution data in an electronic database for focal groups from specimens in the above collections and from published sources (revisions and monographs) and make these and taxonomic data freely available online

Photograph type specimens of tropical Andean butterflies in collaborating institutions and make these images, and others, available online

Conduct research into the taxonomy of certain key groups of Andean butterflies and publish revisions where appropriate

Training (completed 2005-2009)
The project conducted eight 1-week introductory courses attended by 103 students on butterfly biology and survey methods in five tropical Andean countries

The project provided 19 scholarships to select student-led field projects, many contributing to thesis research

The project provided advice on field methods, project design, identification and data analysis to selected students conducting thesis research projects

Future research and conservation strategy for tropical Andean butterflies
The project organised the First International Conference on Andean Butterflies in Urubamba, Peru, in 2008. A total of 120 participants from 12 countries attended, with 50 presentations delivered and 20 posters presented

The project analysed data to assign conservation threat categories to species

Distribution data were used to identify a preliminary set of priority areas for conservation and research in the tropical Andes