In this lecture, Porter will announce a major new discovery of the presence of three lookalike species of Pearly Eye butterflies within the county’s Tallassee Forest. The presence of three virtually indistinguishable, but genetically distinct, species at the same time and in the same place is almost unheard of outside the tropics. Illustrations in Hargrett’s copy of The Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia (1791) by Georgia naturalist John Abbott, show that more than 100 years before the scientific description of these species the artist was clearly aware of the slight variations that were later used to distinguish them. Mature and diverse forests and wetlands, like those at Tallassee, can provide niches for diverse species. Tallassee Forest can also be a refuge for species with ranges shifted by development, such as that in downtown Athens, and by changing climate. Dr. Porter will use these stunning examples of biodiversity to demonstrate the need for and success of, local conservation efforts. He will also show how the holdings of both the Hargrett Rare Book Library and the Georgia Museum of Natural History can inform us, not just about our past, but also about our future.
Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History co-sponsors Dr. Porter’s talk. Lecture will be preceded by a reception with coffee and cookies, and is free and open to all.