In certain aspect, the present edition continues a series of illustrated books about diurnal lepidopterans of the superfamily Papilionoidea of Middle Asian and partly Central Asian regions. First two-volume book was devoted to Papilionoidea fauna of Dzhun-gar, Tien Shan, Alai and Eastern Pamirs (Toropov & Zhdanko 2006 and 2009), which edition has obtained comments from specialists (Kazenas 2007, Tennent 2007), as well from naturalists, collectors and photographers. In the addition, authors have received from colleagues and friends many comments and remarks, which criticisms were took into consideration during the creation of the present book.
During the entire history of lepidopterology, Middle Asian territory, 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 travellers (G. E. Grum-Grshimailo, N. M. Przewalski, A. I. Schrenck, P. P. Semenov-Tien-Shanskij, A. P. Fedtschenko, N. I. Erschoff, S. N. Alpheraky, H. Elwes, E.-H. and V. E. Ruckbeil etc.), made the basis of natural scientific study in lowlands and mountains of Middle Asia and Altai, 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 centuries, from Middle and Central Asia, 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, entomological investigations of central par of Eurasian continent were expanded, and more than 400 scientific papers were published. In the result, in the end of the 20th – beginning of the 21st centuries, there were appeared 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 and [1998–2005], Tshikolovets & al. 2002, Tshikolovets & al. 2009), and also «Catalogue of butterflies of the former USSR» (Korb 2005 (1st ed.), Korb & Bolshakov 2011 (2nd ed.)). These books immediately became popular and owing to this, however some of these monographs are difficult to obtain in wide distribution for entomologists and collectors, are published in limited copies and at present time have become a bibliographic rarity. In addition, new and correct information on the distribution, ecology and taxonomy of diurnal butterfly species has accumulated quickly, but this information is briefly summarised in regional inventory checklists (e. g. such as one in «Genetical Fund Cadastre of Kyrghyzstan» (Toropov 1996) «The blue butterfly (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) fauna of Kyrghyzstan» (Zhdanko 2004), «Diurnal butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea, Hesperioidea) of Kazakhstan» (Zhdanko 2006) and both editions of above mentioned «Catalogue of butterflies of the former USSR»), without visualisation.
The authors of this book had had studied regional butterfly fauna for more than 30 years and used the mentioned monographs and a great number of scientific articles with prime descriptions or results of ecological investigations. However in their attempt to summarise all information accumulated and to propose a series of books on diurnal butterflies of Middle Asian region (and also Eastern Kazakhstan), mainly the original data are presented, i. e. results of their own researches. Obviously, 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. Its quite undoubted that such series of books will be interesting both for relatively narrow sections of the 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 Middle Asia and Eastern Kazakhstan, as butterflies species are the significant component almost of all biocenoses.
Maps are presented (at pages 10–11 and 12–13) for an idea about the region, fauna of which is considered in this book. These maps are schematic: admi-nistrative borders have no official character, there are plotted all towns with population over half of million citizens while another settlements are selectively mapped. As in the first book, borders of the considered territory are determined out mainly by bio-geographic criteria, so this area includes neither state territory whole. Certainly, borders of practically all traditionally named regions such as Northern Tien Shan, Dzhungaria («Songoria»), Heptapotamia («Semirechie»), Eastern Turan, Southern Altai etc., as well their parts, are rather conditional and have different interpretations in various zoo-geographical schemes for arranging the territories of Eurasian subcontinent. In the present book there is considered butterfly (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) fauna of Eastern Turan, Tarbagatai, Saur and South-western Altai in limited territory (the former USSR, i. e. exclu-ding 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. There fore this area (see map at pages 12–13) includes desert plains adjacent with Syr-Darja River valley (also Fergana Valley, while northwards up to 45th northern latitude), southern half of Betpak-Dala Desert, Talas and Chu rivers basins, basins of lakes Balkhash, Alakol, Zaisan, and Markakol, mountain ranges Tarbagatai, Manrak, and Saur, with the north-east limit at Bikhtarma River. In the southern parts this area is contiguous to Tien Shan and Dzhungar, fauna of which territories was presented in previous book of the series.
It would be expedient to remark that diurnal butterfly fauna of the territory considered in the present book is quite enough differs to the fauna of the territory considered in the first book. For example, such taxa as genus Karanasa (from Satyridae family) and genus Polycaena (i. e. whole family Riodinidae) are absent in Eastern Turan, Tarbagatai, Saur and South-western Altai, but they are characteristic elements of fauna of lepidopterans of Tien Shan and Dzhungar. Also would be pertinent to notice that diurnal butterfly fauna of Eastern Kazakhstan mountains includes relatively significant number of taxa well-represented in the fauna of Turan plains, as well Western Siberia and Southern Siberian mountains. In this book there are enough brim-full presented the several species intentionally excluded from the first book (see «Prefaces» in 1st and 2nd volumes of the previous book (Toropov, Zhdanko, 2006; 2009)). Hypermnestra helios, Zegris fausti, Hyponephele huebneri etc. are typical inhabitants of lowland deserts, but they have in Tien Shan and Dzhungar the range ends only. From another side, there are certainly several species and/or subspecies (e. g. Gonepteryx farinosa, Coenonympha caeca and others) which were recorded (by authors or earlier) in Eastern Turan, Tarbagatai, Saur or South-western Altai, but are not included in the present book deliberately, because if they are considerably more typical for adjacent mountain areas, or single occasional migrants.
The present volume of the «The butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) of Eastern Turan, Tarbagatai, Saur and South-western Altai» includes 88 essays about diurnal butterfly species registered in this area, of three families: Papilionidae, Pieridae and Satyridae. The representatives of Danaidae, Nymphalidae, Libytheidae, and Lycaenidae will be presented in the second volume of the book. The present volume also includes acknowledgements, reference list, alphabetical index for butterfly taxa (genera, species and subspecies), and presentations of the authors. The authors have seen fit to place selected photos reporting their field expeditions via the investigated territory and some additions to the book about Papilionoidea of Dzhungar, Tien Shan, Alai and Eastern Pamirs («Addenda»), in the end of present volume. 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 (coloured circles) 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 disco-vered in territory considered. Distribution of the other subspecies found in this territory is marked by circles 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 underside-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. Authors 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