More than 1,900 moth species discovered in Bhutan, 26 species new to science

After almost a decade of study, a team of researchers have discovered almost 2,000 moth species in the country, 26 of which are new to science. Moths are a vital part of biodiversity and play an important role in the ecosystem, affecting many other wildlife.

Moths help the environment through pollination, climate change indication, and are vital along the food chain.

The research was carried out by a team of researchers from Bhutan’s Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Forest and Research Training and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center from the Netherlands.

“It is a major work because it takes years of study; you have to make an inventory of all the moths that are in Bhutan. You have to scientifically describe them. You have to look at the available literature. You have to make sure that you identify them correctly,” said Cornelis Klein, Publisher and Consul General of the Netherlands to Bhutan.

The book is the first comprehensive field guide on the moths of Bhutan.

“We collect the specimen from the field and send the specimen to the collaborators in the Netherlands where it is dissected and DNA is sampled and thereafter the species is confirmed. After that, the specimen is deposited at the National Biodiversity Centre,” said Karma Wangdi, the Co-author of the book.

Karma Wangdi rediscovered the national butterfly, Bhutantis Ludlowi, in 2009 and the white plume moth in 2014, which has been named after him as Pterophorus karmawangdii.

“Macro-invertebrates are very important and they are potential bio-indicator of our environment. The quality of the water and the pollutants that are there in the water impacts the diversity of the species,” said Mer-man Gurung, a Researcher from the College of Natural Resources.

The field guide is being distributed to schools and institutions for research purposes. A museum for insects is currently being developed at Lamai Goenpa in Bumthang, where the invertebrates would be displayed for public view.

The launch of the ‘Moths of Bhutan’ book was organised by the National Biodiversity Centre along with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Forest and Research Training, and the Consul General of the Netherlands to Bhutan.

Tshering Deki

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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