During the entire history of lepidopterology, Central Asia, one of the centres of the species origin, has been the region of great interest for experienced specialists, numerous entomologists, amateur naturalists and collectors.
Famous Russian naturalists and travelers (G. E. Grum-Grshimailo, N. M. Przewalski, A. I. Schrenck,
P. P. Semenov-Tien-Shanskij, A. P. Fedtschenko, N. I. Erschov, S. N. Alpheraky, A.N. Avinov, E.-H. and V. E. R?ckbeil etc.), made the basis of natural scientific study in Middle-Asian mountains, and, partially, on butterflies. They created first zoological collections, in which the lepidopterological material was one of significant components. Diurnal butterflies collections of the end of 19th and beginning of 20th centures build the basis for species listing in world-known scientific publications, such as "The Catalogue of Butterflies of Palaearctics" by O. Staudinger & H. Rebel (1901) and "Diurnal Butterflies of the Palaearctics" by A. Seitz (1906-1909) (both editions are in German). These fundamental reports are of the great value in many aspects also at present time.
During the following eight decades, more than 200 scientific papers were published and, by the end of the 20th - beginning of the 21st centuries, such monographs as "The Parnassiinae of the World" by J.-C. Weiss [1991-2005], "Die Tagfalter Nordwestasians (Lepidoptera, Diurna)" by V. A. Lukhtanov and A. G. Lukhtanov (1994), the "Guide to the butterflies of Russia and adjacent territories (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera)" (Tuzov & al. 1997 and 2000), "Monograph of the Genus Colias." by J. Verhulst (2000), "The Butterflies of Pamir" and "The butterflies of Palaearctic Asia" by V. V. Tshikolovets (Tshikolovets 1997 and [1998-2005]) appeared. These books immediately became popular in entomologists and collectors. However new and correct information on the distribution, ecology and taxonomy of Central Asian diurnal butterfly species has accumulated quickly, but this information is briefly summarized in regional inventory checklists (e. g. such as "Genetical Fund Cadastre of Kyrghyzstan" (Toropov 1996), without visualisation.
The authors of this book had studied regional butterfly fauna for more than 30 years. They tried to summarise all information accumulated and to propose a series of books on diurnal butterflies of Central-Asian region. They used the mentioned monographs and a great number of scientific articles with prime descriptions or results of ecological investigations based mainly on the original data, i. e. results of their own researches. In our opinion, colourful illustrations in addition to complete faunistic inventory in accordance to modern taxonomy would be advisable. These illustrations may include many superb photographs of specimens from collection, butterflies in nature, caterpillars, host-plants, landscapes and habitats. We hope such series of books will be interesting both for specialists and many amateurs - entomologists, collectors, students of biological specialists, tourists and naturalists in general. Probably these books might be used in further investigations on the biodiversity and will serve for integrated conservation of unique ecosystems in Central Asia, as butterflies species are the significant component almost of all biocenoses.
The presented book "The butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Dzhungar, Tien Shan, Alai and Eastern Pamirs" is the first part in a general project devoted to diurnal butterflies of the Central Asian region. It is proposed that such an edition will contain three books with a general scheme of information present. The second book, "The butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Turan, Tarbagatai, Saur and Southern Altai" is planned for publication in 2008, while the third book "The butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Hissar, Darvaz and Western Pamirs" - before 2011.
Certainly, borders of mentioned geographic regions and their parts are rather conditional and have different interpretations in various zoo-geographical schemes for arranging the territories of Central Asia. The material in the present book is not an exception. The idea about fauna of the region considered in this book is presented in book-opening 10-11 and 12-13 (administrative borders have no official character). We consider the butterfly fauna (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Dzhungar, Tien Shan, Alai and Eastern Pamirs in limited territory (the former USSR, i. e. excluding of adjacent areas of People's Republic of China). Borders of the area covered can be different in the comparison to those conventionally accepted in some well-known bio-geographical schemes. Some species (e. g. Hypermnestra helios, Zegris fausti, Melitaea acraeina, Athamanthia athamantis, Cupido prosecusa, Hyponephele huebneri, Coenonympha mongolica and Rhymnaria rhymnus - typical inhabitants of lowland deserts, and also Dzhungarian Euchloe naina irinae) have the end of there are overlapping the territory considered. We intentionally excluded these species from this book. In our opinion, it will be more appropriate to present descriptions of these species in the second book. Pieris eitschbergeri is not introduced into this book by the absence of any qualitative illustrations for the species.
The present book "The butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Dzhungar, Tien Shan, Alai and Eastern Pamirs" includes 295 essays about diurnal butterfly species registered in this area. The book consists of two volumes. The first volume is devoted to the families of Papilionidae, Pieridae and Satyridae. It also includes an acknowledgements, alphabetical index for butterfly taxa (genera, species and subspecies), reference list and presentations of the authors. The second volume will present the families of Nymphalidae, Libytheidae, Riodinidae and Lycaenidae.
Each essay consists of the Latin name of a species and identical text in Russian and English, which contains brief information about general area of distribution, typical habitats (biotopes), altitudinal diapason of spreading, flying period, number of generations, host-plants, as well data on pre-imaginal phases and ecological peculiarities. Some facts represent results of the original study and recent observations. A description of each species includes illustrations for the essay and takes at least one whole book opening.
Information about distribution of a species is presented on colour relief-shaded map with point marking (colour circled) of the known loci where subspecies were found. The primary colour of the circles is red, it was used to mark the sites of species discovery if this species is not divided into subspecies, or sites where only one subspecies was discovered in territory considered. Distribution of the other subspecies found in this territory is marked bycircles of the other colours, and the loci where there were found individuals of uncertain systematic position, which taxonomic denomination needs to be additionally studied and defined more precisely - by rings. Some doubtful sites mentioned in the literature sources are mapped by the question mark. In addition to colour photographs of collection specimens (male, female and under side-view; all in natural scale) visual characteristics for species are presented with colour photographs of butterflies in natural setting, caterpillars, their host-plants, pupas, typical biotopes in their habitats. Each photograph is supplied with a note in English including the name of a photographer.
Quality of illustrations (including artistic quality of photographs) were considered as one of desirable advantages of this project in comparison to the similar books. Certainly, in addition to limited volume of the book great diversity of forms, variations and aberrations (both known for authors only and already described in lepidopterological literature) makes the task to illustrate wide morphological variability typical for many species extremely difficult. Owing to this, there is only a few number of photographs for every species, that does not reflect the entire range of intraspecies morphological (and biotopic) diversity. The authors decided to give no annotations for genera and families and also avoid of overloading text with references to original descriptions of species and subspecies, as well as with taxonomic names of intermediate ranks (subfamilies, tribes and subgenera). Also there was a supposition that it is admissible no include numerous references to papers with descriptions, reviews, revisions, and results of particular ecological, faunistic, morphological, etc. researches were also excluded from the reference list. We did not have a task to make complete bibliography on the regional fauna of butterflies, or to give all reference to papers (books, scientific articles, published notes, etc.) used in our own study of this problem. That's why we included only the most significant references, as well those containing accurate and little known facts.
S. Toropov, A. Zhdanko