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current posts

Thu 27th April 2006 18:43 by Mark Yeates
Chairman's Blog
Phew! I have just completed the capture of Turner's 1955 checklist.  By 'capture' I mean that this is now on computer in a machine-readable form. Having recently discovered the excellent Abbyy FineReader OCR software, I decided to re-capture the entire text and then parse out the checklist.  Unbelievably, with this new software, it was possible to scan and read the entire book in a morning.  The read accuracy of this is very good and after a couple of proof-readings the errors found were few and far-between.

Copyright issues have been considered here and a statement is made on the Database resources used on this site page.

Having captured the list, the next job was to translate the scientific names he used into 'currently accepted names'.  This was quite a task and I am indebted to John Langmaid for his assistance on the last 100 or so problematic species.  We are still doing a final check on this list before it is released.  At the moment all but a handful of species can be translated reliably.  After bemoaning this process in my last post, I was encouraged and impressed by the light work John made of the difficult species (at least difficult for me!).

In looking at this list, together with others for the county, it now seems best to use the checklist in it's given (verbatim) form and then use a translation table to map each name to a current name.  Perhaps that should be qualified with a 'where possible'.  This allows the original definition to be preserved exactly and still used in conjunction with our modern list.  Also, we can continue to work on resolving the species whilst considering the list capture a job done.

This exercise has, as you might expect, thrown up more and more questions.  For example, there are a number of species that appear on first sight to be listed twice from their synonymy.  As an example, we see listed (Turner p112):

Crambus culmellus (Linn.) "Abundant everywhere".

then (the following entry):

Crambus hortuellus (Hubn.) "Generally common in all parts and locally abundant".

It is not unreasonable, on first sight, to assume that either or both of these are Chrysoteuchia culmella (Linnaeus) as hortuella (Hubner) is a synonym for culmella. In this case, it is likely that since culmella auctt. is also a synonym for Agraphila straminella (D. & S.) which isn't on the list and surely should be he must mean this species.

So, on balance we assume that his Crambus culmellus = Agraphila straminella and his Crambus hortuellus = Chrysoteuchia culmella.

Again, I do find it hard to believe we have this legacy of confusion from a checklist that is only 50 years old.

Anyway, this will soon be in a fit state to put on the website for you to view and also to be used in conjunction with our current list.

No moths to report but I did see my first Orange Tip's Anthocharis cardamines (2 males) in the garden today (ST5715, VC9, Dorset).


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