Ornithoptera priamus

Ornithoptera priamus
Ornithoptera priamus pronomus (male)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Ornithoptera
Species: O. priamus
Binomial name
Ornithoptera priamus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Ornithoptera priamus, commonly known as the common green birdwing, Cape York Birdwing, Priam's Birdwing or Northern Birdwing, is a widespread species of birdwing butterfly found in the central and south Moluccas, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, and northeast Australia.[1]

Contents

Variation

Ornithoptera priamus miokensis (male)

Ornithoptera priamus is a variable species. There have been as many as 99 subspecies described (most of which are synonyms of O. priamus poseidon), with many more named variants and forms described for both sexes.

As in other species of the genus Ornithoptera, the females are larger and less vividly coloured than the males, them being mainly blackish or dark brown with patterns in pale brown, yellow or white. Nonetheless, females are extremely variable, and they may have colour patterns similar to females of other Ornithoptera species.

In males, iridescent areas of the wing are typically green, although some subspecies endemic to island groups east of New Guinea have blue males. These subspecies are O. priamus urvilleanus (New Ireland, Bougainville, and Solomon Islands), O. priamus miokensis (Mioko Island), and O. priamus caelestis (Louisiade Archipelago).[2]

However, it is likely that O. priamus miokensis is actually a hybrid between O. priamus urvillenaus and O. priamus bornemanni from the neighbouring islands of New Britain and Bougainville. Specimens of this subspecies are variable, and can be identical to specimens of either parent, or intermediates. Immigration may also explain its rarity, as Mioko is a small island and, as of 2001, its hostplants had been reduced to a few Aristolochia tagala vines growing in a local village.

Subspecies

Illustration of female

Ornithoptera priamus was originally described from Seram Island, Indonesia. Some list as few as five subspecies (excluding nominal),[3] but a taxonomic review is needed and most recognise more:[1]

  • O. p. admiralitatis (Admiralty Islands and nearby smaller islands, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. albiro (Tayandu Islands, Indonesia) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. hecuba
  • O. p. arruana (Aru Islands, Indonesia)
  • O. p. aureus (Arfak Mountains, West Papua, Indonesia) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. poseidon
  • O. p. boisduvali (Woodlark Island, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. bornemanni (New Britain and nearby smaller islands, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. caelestis (Louisiade Archipelago, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. demophanes (D'Entrecasteaux and Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. garainaensis (vicinity of Garaina, Papua New Guinea?) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. poseidon
  • O. p. gebeensis (Gebe Island, Indonesia)
  • O. p. hecuba (Kai Islands, Indonesia)
  • O. p. impensis (Manipa Island, Indonesia)
  • O. p. kassandra (Yapen Island, West Papua, Indonesia)
  • O. p. macalpinei (Iron and McIlwraith Ranges, Queensland, Australia) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. poseidon
  • O. p. miokensis (Mioko Island, Papua New Guinea)
  • O. p. poseidon (New Guinea and northern islands of Torres Straight)
  • O. p. priamus (Seram, Saparua and Ambon, Indonesia)
  • O. p. pronomus (southern islands of Torres Straight, Queensland, Australia) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. poseidon
  • O. p. sterrensis (Mt. Sterren, West Papua, Indonesia) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. poseidon
  • O. p. teucrus (Biak and Supiori, West Papua, Indonesia)
  • O. p. wituensis (Vitu Islands, Papua New Guinea) – possibly a junior synonym of O. p. bornemanni
  • O. p. urvillianus (New Ireland and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)

Several species currently recognised as distinct have previously been considered subspecies of O. priamus by different authors. These are O. aesacus, O. croesus, O. euphorion and O. richmondia. The last two are still regarded as subspecies of O. priamus by some.[1]

Threats

Overall this species remains widespread, but some subspecies are threatened by habitat destruction, with those endemic to smaller islands (e.g. O. priamus miokensis and O. priamus boisduvali) of greatest conservation concern. Like all birdwing butterflies, O. priamus is listed on CITES,[4] which restricts international trade.

External links

References


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