CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

HOLY KALEIDOSCOPE! Scientists Tally Boatloads of Butterflies from Bolivian Park

  • Bolivia’s Madidi National Park overflowing with winged wonders
  • Scientists count 1,080 butterfly varieties in park the size of New Jersey
  • 725 butterfly species found in U.S. and Canada combined
  • Identidad Madidi expedition continues in Andean foothill forest in April 2016 and will last for 26 months

Link to slideshow of 14 hi-res butterfly images

NEW YORK (March 16, 2016) – WCS reports that scientists from the groundbreaking Identidad Madidi expedition have identified a staggering 1,080 varieties of butterfly (950 species and an additional 130 subspecies) living in Madidi National Park – a New Jersey-sized protected area considered to be the most biodiverse in the world.

This new count, which was a combination of fieldwork and literature reviews, nearly triples the previous tally for the park of 348 species and an additional 7 subspecies.

As a comparison, there are approximately 725 butterfly species in the entire U.S. and Canada combined. The Madidi butterflies were tallied during expedition field surveys in the park and subsequent literature reviews.

The expedition’s entomologist, Fernando Guerra Serrudo, Associate Researcher of the Bolivian Faunal Collection and the Institute of Ecology, said of Madidi’s butterflies: “Identidad Madidi has encouraged us to systematize all previous data available for this record-breaking park. We first studied literature and photographs and increased formally recognized butterfly records. In addition, the Identidad Madidi expeditions have made a huge field contribution, further increasing the number of known species and subspecies to 1080 varieties. Based on studies in adjacent areas of Peru, eventually we expect more than 1,500 butterfly species to be registered in Madidi and with the planned expedition sites in 2016 we hope to get close to that number.


Identidad Madidi is a multi-institutional effort to describe still unknown species and to showcase the wonders of Bolivia’s extraordinary natural heritage at home and abroad. The expedition officially began on June 5th, 2015 and will eventually visit 15 sites lasting for 26 months as a team of Bolivian scientists works to expand existing knowledge on Madidi’s birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish along an altitudinal pathway descending more than 5,000 meters (more than 16,000 feet) from the mountains of the high Andes into the tropical Amazonian forests and grasslands of northern Bolivia.

The expedition has already discovered a new frog, three probable new catfish, and a probable new lizard. The next leg of the expedition will explore the stunningly picturesque Andean foothill forests of the Hondo River in April 2016, before moving on to the mysterious and logistically challenging cloud forests further up the Andes in June and July. In late August the team will make a six-week visit to the lowland tropical natural grasslands and true Amazonian forest along the Heath River.

Participating institutions in Identidad Madidi include the Ministry of the Environment and Water, through the General Directorate for Biodiversity and Protected Areas, the Bolivian National Park Service and Madidi National Park, the Ministry of Education through the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology and the Bolivian Biodiversity Network, WCS, the Institute of Ecology, Bolivian National Herbarium, Bolivian Faunal Collection, the National Natural History Museum, the Alcide d’Orbigny Natural History Museum and Armonia with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and WCS.

The expedition can be followed online at www.Facebook/IdentidadMadidi or www.identidadmadidi.org, #IDMadidi.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.