Honduras, located in northern Central America, had gaping holes in basic knowledge of many aspects of its biodiversity. This includes its butterfly fauna. Since 2016 Robert Gallardo and Olivia Diaz have been surveying butterflies in earnest across much of the Honduran landscape with the goal of producing a butterfly guide. Within the first fourteen months they discovered three undescribed species and to date have already recorded more than three-hundred country records. Their property alone, Emerald Valley, harbors an amazing 704 species and there, they hold an annual festival where clouds of butterflies descend into the mistflower-filled gardens. During this seminar we will explore this little known, but rich country, and the work they have been carrying out.
Robert is originally from Santa Paula, California. From a very early age he has developed a fondness for the natural world and this eventually led him to get a degree in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation at Humboldt State University, California in 1992. He is a devote Naturalist that has resided in Honduras since 1993, after having served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer for three years. He avidly studies Honduras’ birds, butterflies and orchids, but admires all fields of flora and fauna. He has authored and produced numerous natural history productions such as the Guide to Birds of Lake Yojoa, a CD-Bird Songs of Honduras, a CD-Orchids of Honduras and two editions of the Guide to the Birds of Honduras (in English and Spanish). He also implemented numerous butterfly breeding facilities and trained all of the professional bird watching guides in the country. Returning to his childhood passion of butterflies has recently led him to discover the first three undescribed species of butterflies in Honduras; all being endemics (two were recently published in Tropical Lepidoptera-June 2021). Together with their Pro Nature Honduras Foundation (www.prohn.org) they are striving to publish the country’s first butterfly guide by late 2022. He and Olivia, along with the Foundation members and other devoted conservationists, aim to open the country’s first nature center at Emerald Valley; a picturesque natural sanctuary at Lake Yojoa that harbors some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the country.