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Welcome to the Saturniidae campaign of the Lepidoptera Barcode of Life.

Members of the family Saturniidae, also known as Wild Silkmoths, are insects that impress. Some species are goliaths the largest insects on the planet. Others are exquisite: from the diaphanous green and the long tails of Actias (or Moon moths), to the rich chestnut hues of Citheronia. The global saturniid fauna includes about 1800 species that have been assigned to eight different subfamilies. Their diversity varies radically among regions: while in Western Europe species can be counted on one hand, South America is awash in saturniids with more than 1000 described species.

Several saturniid species play an important role in silk industry, especially in South-East Asia, and in some African countries the caterpillars of these moths are of critical importance as a source of protein within population diets. Others, like the hemileucine Hylesia metabus do cause occasional serious dermatitis outbreaks in South-America and the venomous spiny caterpillars of some Lonomia species have caused lethal accidents on this continent. The beautiful Spanish Moon Moth, Graellsia isabellae, is one of the few protected European insects, and all over the world many endemic species with no conservation status are currently at high risk of extinction because of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitats.

Saturniid taxonomy has received a lot of attention and is generally well developed, although tropical faunas especially in Africa require further large-scale revisions. Because there is no available comprehensive checklist for the saturniids of the world, the campaign is based on an unpublished checklist combining major treatments of sections of the family, plus a number of more contemporaneous isolated works. The higher classification within Saturniidae remains in need of a comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis for the family; fragmentary phylogenies, based mostly on molecular data so far, are available for a few subfamilies only.

The global DNA barcoding campaign for the world fauna of Saturniidae was initiated in August 2006 as one of the first global campaigns in Lepidoptera. Most of the world experts for that family are involved and have provided samples and taxonomic expertise toward the goal of assembling a comprehensive reference library. Crystallizing and diffusing that expertise around the globe, this effort will enable reliable species identification of any species, anywhere, at any stage of its development. The campaign is very advanced already, but sampling remains incomplete for certain areas or certain groups within the family. Moreover, the massive amount of newly generated genetic data represents an invaluable source of information that complements other sets of characters, making it possible to address many existing taxonomic questions, synonymies, and revealing many new cases of overlooked or cryptic diversity.

iBOL Overview
The International Barcode of Life project (iBOL) is the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken. Work over the past five years has produced DNA barcode records for more than 50,000 species and laid the groundwork for the official launch of iBOL in July 2010. More than 25 countries are involved and major commitments have been made toward the Phase 1 operating budget of $150 million.

By 2015, consortium members will have entered DNA barcode records from 5 million specimens representing 500,000 species into the interactive Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD), creating the foundation for a subsequent push towards a DNA barcode reference library for all of Earth’s eukaryotes.

iBOL is a not-for-profit organization overseen by an international board of directors representing funding organizations. The iBOL Secretariat is housed by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph.


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