ABL3 - Larsen, T. B. 2005: Butterflies of West Africa, vol. 1-2.

ISBN 87-88757-43-9

228 x2 1 cm. 865 pages incl. 125 colour plates depicting more than 1.400 specimens. Hardback.

Volume 1 contains texts, Volume 2 contains graphical plates.

Text in English.

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198,18 € HT
198,18 € HT


European Union

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This book attempts to summarize all that is known about the nearly 1,500 butterfly species known from West Africa, the fifteen countries that stretch from Senegal and Mauritania on the Atlantic to Nigeria and Niger in the east, touching also on the extreme western parts of Cameroun (Mauritania, The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Bénin, Nigeria, and Niger). It is the result of more than ten years of intensive personal research.
The fauna of West Africa accounts for well over a third of all butterflies in the Afrotropical biogeographical region, and about one in twelve of all butterflies known worldwide. Just 25 years ago the area covered was believed to have just about 1,000 species.
The aims and objectives of the book are:
1) To describe and illustrate all West African butterflies in such a way that most can be identified by non-specialists. Nearly all species are illustrated in colour on the 125 plates, many of which have never been adequately figured before. There are numerous illustrations of genitalia in difficult groups of Lycaenidae and Hesperiidae.
2) To give their distribution over the fifteen countries of the region to the extent that this is currently known, as well as their wider distribution in Africa as a whole. The book thus comprises country records of known butterflies in these countries, for most of which there are no previous published lists.
3) To indicate their habitats, habits, frequency and host plants as recorded or personally observed.
4) To place the West African butterfly fauna in a total African perspective and to give details of the ecological biogeography of West Africa.
5) To contribute to the urgent conservation efforts to maintain the biodiversity of West Africa.
Butterflies are potentially an important group of indicator species for biodiversity, ecology, and for biogeographical studies: but such a role cannot be fulfilled unless they can be properly identified. They constitute a large group of insects where baselines established now will allow for long-term assessment of biodiversity loss. African butterflies have also increasingly been used in studies of butterfly behaviour and in molecular studies. In the absence of a book like this, confident identification of most species was a matter mainly for specialists with access to museums and specialist literature outside Africa. The butterflies of Kenya and their natural history (Larsen 1991) was meant to fulfil the same role and it has been used extensively in ecological and ethological studies, as well as conservation work not just in Kenya, but also in the neighbouring countries.
Though the author has reviewed virtually all literature on West African butterflies, the book is largely the result of his personal research programme in West Africa and in Museums. Before the project started he had already visited Bénin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo on various occasions. Between 1993 and 2003 he spent almost two years in the field, in Côte dIvoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and western Cameroun. Planned visits the other coastal countries, especially Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia proved impossible. Civil strife made this too dangerous, not least for someone without formal institutional back up. However, a positive result of this constraint was that some important forests in Ghana and Nigeria could be investigated in more depth than any other localities in tropical Africa. Of equal importance has been the study of much unpublished material, old as well as new, in museums and private collections in many parts of the world. In this respect it was especially important that the African Butterfly Research Institute (ABRI) in Nairobi sent teams of collectors to many parts of West Africa partly as support to the project. Though ABRI shared the same constraints in terms of access to many countries, much new data was procured not least from Guinea Bissau and Guinea.



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