I have to agree with John; the sheer volume of errors in D'Abrera's works means that they are useless for any serious work. However, Michel does have a point; they are the first books to attempt to cover all butterflies (except skippers) since Seitz (which is now woefully out-of-date). I have to admit I do have most of them and I find them useful as ID guides for groups I don't know very well. They are pretty books and the photos are good but they're rather expensive ID guides. You just have to bear in mind that they're riddled with errors, and try to ignore the constant proselytising, which has no place in a purportedly scientific work.
Indonesian is a beautiful language that works like our European languages... A pleasure in Asia!!!
FYI they publish these books in Indonesian to teach Papuan and Indonesian children the love of butterflies.
Of course these books are aimed at the whole of Indonesia, including the Indonesian part of New Guinea, West Papua. PNG locals won't be able to read them. Anything that helps instil a love of nature in the locals must be a good thing. Some of them may even stop cutting the forest down (fat chance - I know).
I should point out that Thai is actually a much more logical and straightforward language than my native English or other European languages, even simpler than Bahasa (Malay and Indonesian being the 2 variants of that base language). The only complication is there are 5 tones and it has its own alphabet, but that is totally phonetic so if you learn the letters you can read exactly how to pronounce each word, unlike English. Bahasa was never written until the colonial times so they have no alphabet of their own, similar to Vietnamese in that respect (although the languages are totally different). Thai has no gender agreement, no plurals, verbs don't change with tense or case and a purely logical sentence structure without lots of little words (a, an, the etc) that are common in English.
Post by Adam Cotton on Mar 11, 2014 6:51:50 GMT -8
Peggie (one of the authors of the paper Alain was asking about) sent the following information in 2 e-mails. I have already sent this on to Alain, but thought other readers may be interested:
"The Tropical Biodiversity journal is probably discontinued. It was published by Yayasan Bina Sains Hayati Indonesia (Indonesian Foundation for the Advancement of Biological Sciences, Depok). Its last volume was in 2005, vol. 8 no. 3 according to our library holding. I will ask a few more colleagues to confirm this."
"I have a confirmation from a few colleagues who were the editors of Tropical Biodiversity that indeed it does not exist anymore after struggling with publication cost and low number of subscribers."
Post by Adam Cotton on Mar 11, 2014 10:47:47 GMT -8
Bernard D'Abrera has informed me that the paper by Tennent in Apollo that I originally cited in this post contains untrue statements about him, and as a result has requested that I remove the citation until such time as the matter has been rectified by the journal/author. Since the paper does indeed contain a sentence that could be regarded as defamatory I have decided to comply with his request.
Last Edit: Aug 5, 2015 0:07:06 GMT -8 by Adam Cotton: edited at the request of Bernard D'Abrera
A similar work has been published on Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region. Part III. Lycaenidae & Riodinidae, last december.
Steve C. Collins , T. Colin E. Congdon , Graham A. Henning , Torben B. Larsen & Mark C. Williams. A review of d’Abrera’s Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region – Part III. (second edition), 2009 – Part 1. Metamorphosis 24: 25-34.
Steve C. Collins , T. Colin E. Congdon , Graham A. Henning , Torben B. Larsen & Mark C. Williams. A review of d’Abrera’s Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region – Part III. (second edition), 2009 – Part 2. Metamorphosis 24: 44-56.
Yes, there seems there are many errors in d'Abrera works, that confound those taxonomist especially with his types. However for the average collector these massive works are ideal for identification, although they may be well out of date in some sections, he, like every other taxonomist I know, seems to have his own ideas on what may be a species or subspecies or form. Soon as a work of this magnitude is published it will be out date, because the other taxonomists will have changed genus names or elevated new species because that's how they see it. Funny how everybody will always criticize his works, but they all own them. No, I am not a d'Abrera fan, his scathing attacks in the Birdwing book was painful to read and yes he will not often consult other specialists in the lepidoptera groups. Also his unbelievable ideas that a creator made everything and anything in his spare time, are truly amazing for a serious scentist. Certainly the best known eccentric man of butterflies and one that will be remembered by entomologists of the future when many others are long forgotten.
Whatever we may think, say or believe about Dear Bernard, I still maintain that as regards to his books for identification purposes and a guide to the butterflies of the World, there is nothing approaching them or probably will there ever be due to the vast amount of work involved. It seems we love to criticize, but rarely give any praise, I am also sometimes guilty of this ;). Of course all the specialists will find some errors and gaps and disagree with d' Abrera. I would be interested to know who does not own a d'Abrera book here who collects butterflies. Regards to Bernard if he is reading this.
Post by Adam Cotton on Sept 3, 2014 8:15:40 GMT -8
I have most of his books, certainly all of the Butterflies of the xxx Region(s) series, including all the volumes on the other families that I personally don't work on, as well as his works on Sphingidae and Saturniidae (but I do not have the latest one of that series).
I must agree with Peter, for all the errors, faults and quirks in his work, they are still the most generally useful butterfly books available (rather than specialist works), and in reality probably represent the only such work since Seitz. Despite errors of nomenclature they are a great general guide to butterflies of the World and invaluable for tentative identification.
I would also like to send best regards to Bernard if he is reading this. I still remember having many interesting tea breaks with him in the NHM back in 1980.
Bernard D'Abrera has asked me to post the following on his behalf. I think everyone will find it interesting.
The post [by gauthier on 12 March 2014 above] referring to two critiques of d'Abrera's Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region Part III by Collins et al (Metamorphosis, Vols. 24, 25) have been satisfactorily rebutted by d'Abrera (Metamorphosis, Vol.25: 138-140). In that paper d'Abrera has correctly pointed out the origin of the vast majority of 'errors' attributed to him by Collins et al. That origin, also cited by others including Ackery et al (1995, Carcasson's African Butterflies), was the original BMNH card index system then in use before the advent of modern, computer-based systematic lists. Other taxonomic and literary matters have also been comprehensively answered by d'Abrera. The editor of the journal has accepted and published his response.
When Bernard d'Abrera first arrived at the BMNH in 1969 to commence work on Butterflies of the Australian Region he was given clear instructions that every specimen removed, had to be replaced in its original hole in the drawer, with the original labels placed in correct succession on their pins. He was also instructed that he was not to undertake any new systematic revisions. Further, the description of new taxa was permissible only after consultation with curatorial staff, or if he was absolutely certain that the specimens represented undescribed taxa. As for nomenclature, he was instructed to use only the nomenclature indicated on the curatorial labels affixed to the drawers, and principally to the then sole card index system (there were no computers) present on each floor. Any taxonomy that ensued had to be based on the latest revisions by other specialists who may themselves have altered the card index system appropriately, sometimes only by hand. Consequently, many anomalies were imposed on the card index system, and these were transferred in good faith not only by d'Abrera, but also by other authors, in particular Ackery et al (1995, Carcasson's African Butterflies). Bálint (2000. Lepid. News: 9) says "It must be emphasized however, that most of the apparent errors and spellings in d'Abrera's works are generally caused by his faithful transposition of the spellings present in either the Museum's card index and/or in the curatorial labels in the type or main collection drawers". Forum members might be relieved to know that the card index system has now been replaced by more correct (but still not perfect) modern electronic records.
I fully understand the "Index Card" problem. My collection began in 1957 and I recorded all of my data into a 3 X 5 Index Card System which has contined until this very day. By the time computers came to be my collection contained 50,000+specimens and I was not about to spend several months of data entry.
I now have over 100000 specimens. When we loose power I can still enter and add records with a small battery power lamp. Try that with a computer.
I was taught by J.F. Gates Clark at the USNM to record my data for those who would use my collections in the future and the valuable information on the labels under the specimens. I have done so for almost 60 years.
The post [by gauthier on 12 March 2014 above] referring to two critiques of d'Abrera's Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region Part III by Collins et al (Metamorphosis, Vols. 24, 25) have been satisfactorily rebutted by d'Abrera (Metamorphosis, Vol.25: 138-140). In that paper d'Abrera has correctly pointed out the origin of the vast majority of 'errors' attributed to him by Collins et al. That origin, also cited by others including Ackery et al (1995, Carcasson's African Butterflies), was the original BMNH card index system then in use before the advent of modern, computer-based systematic lists. Other taxonomic and literary matters have also been comprehensively answered by d'Abrera. The editor of the journal has accepted and published his response..
Except that you and I would consider the work sloppy. He should know the names of specimens he looks at. We all know that BMNH has label issues, but if one is spelled wrong, why not check the others? Ask any of the top guys at BMNH and they will tell you his work is sloppy.
d' Abrera works have given lepidopterists the World over, the opportunity to see a massive range of specimens and species that if it were not for his extensive World lepidoptera books they would never have seen.