Friday, 24 July 2015

25. Faunis excelsa excelsa

Number: 25
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Amathusiinae
Species: Faunis excelsa excelsa (Fruhstorfer, 1901)
Common name(s): none
Photography location: Huu Lien N.R. (Lang Son Prov.)

According to Monastyrskii  & Devyatkin (2016), 5 Faunis species have been recorded in Vietnam viz. F. eumeus (N. and C. Vietnam), F. canens (N. and C.), F. excelsa (N. and C.), F. bicoloratus (C.) and F. centrala (C.).  Centrala and excelsa have Up of both wings grey. The 3 other species have brown Up. 

Faunis aerope excelsa Fruhstorfer,1911 was described from N. Vietnam ("Tonkin, Than Moi"). This subspecies has been raised to species level by Monastyrskii based on structure of the male genitalia.

"Than Moi" probably corresponds to Than Muội “village” (xã in Vietnamese), in Chi Lang (Chi Lăng) district, Lang Son (Lạng Sơn) Province, approximately 130km north of Hanoi. At the time this species was collected, Chi Lang and Huu Lung (Hữu Lũng) district were probably still covered by primary forest. However, over the past century, this area has lost almost all of its original vegetation through the spread of farming, mining, timber plantation. Actually, along the busy Nationale Road 1, which passes through these two districts, most of the hills are covered by industrial tree plantations (of exotic fast-growing trees). The nearest remaining good forest fragments are preserved in the Huu Liên Nature Reserve (Huu Lung district), a few dozen kilometers west from the (supposed) type locality. All the photos below have been taken there. Interestingly, "Than Moi" appears as type locality of numerous insects species described during the French colonialism period – and some of this species have not been seen since.

Faunis excelsa is a restricted-range species (Indochinese endemic) only recorded from N. & C. Vietnam, E.Laos and S.China (Guangxi Prov.). In N.Vietnam, it’s present, at least, in Huu Lien N.R., Tam Dao and Hoang Lien Son N.P (Monastyrskii, 2011).

Faunis excelsa in limestone karst forest (Huu Lien, August 2014)

Another specimen from Huu Lien

    Faunis excelsa, male (Huu Lien, May 2016)

     Male upperwings are uniformly cream

Female in flight
Female upperwings are more contrasted (cream and pale brownish, duller at FW tip)

Faunis excelsa and F. eumeus side by side (Huu Lien, May 2016)
Both species show a series of large rounded submarginal whitish dots. But Un of eumeus is reddish-brown, whereas Un of excelsa is grey-brown. Moreover, excelsa is larger in average.

Female, voucher specimen from Huu Lien, upperside

Same specimen, underside

Butterflies of Vietnam, Vol. 3: Nymphalidae: Danainae; Amathusiinae (A.L. Monastyrskii, 2011)

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