Taxonomy – help or hindrance in S.E. Asia?

Lesley Ballantyne

Charles Sturt University, PO Box 58, Wagga Wagga 2678, Australia.


The taxonomic imperative is no less an issue in South East Asia than elsewhere but addressing it is complicated. Early exploration into the natural history of this area resulted in most types and identified material being housed in European museums, with local collections largely consisting of unidentified, or misidentified material. A visit to these European collections is often very difficult, as apart from the financial burden there may be institutional resistance. Access to literature is also a problem as most of the firefly literature from this area was written over 100 years ago. In recent times only two taxonomists have been active in S.E. Asian firefly taxonomy (in contrast to the activities of several behaviouralists) and their output while welcome barely scratches the surface. Yet at the very beginning of any work on fireflies we need to be able to identify the species reliably, or to determine accurately if it is new. The problems in achieving an adequate taxonomic framework for fireflies in this area are addressed, including how these problems have arisen, why some are particular to the region under consideration, what some of the problems are, what can be done and is being done to address them. As a result of activities by the symposium organisers, and others in the firefly field, the outlook is decidedly positive.

descriptive taxonomy, South East Asia, Luciolinae