Report on the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Southern Lepidopterists’ Society, Gainesville, Florida

The first-ever joint meeting of the Southern Lepidopterists’ Society and the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera was held September 27 and 28, 2003 in the Doyle Conner Auditorium of the FSCA, Division of Plant Industry, Gainesville, Florida. This meeting, the 25th Annual Meeting of the SLS, was a landmark in the society’s quarter century history, and was well attended, with several charter members present. Members who signed in were as follows: James K. Adams, Andy Anderson, Bob Belmont, Bob Beiriger, Ron and Grace Boender, Richard Boscoe, John Calhoun, Terry and Sandra Doyle, Tom Emmel, David Fine, Irving Finkelstein, Rick Gillmore, John Heppner, Deborah and Terry Lott, Lee and Jackie Miller, Marc Minno, Tom Neal, Akers Pence, Floyd and June Preston and Jeff Slotten. Many SLS members are also ATL members, and so the complete attendance roll contained 44 names by meeting’s end.


The joint meeting was called to order punctually at 9:00 Saturday morning, with brief announcements by Emily Heffernan, the Program Coordinator, who turned the podium over to Jackie Miller, moderator of the morning program, with Bob Beiriger moderating the afternoon session. The two day meeting contained a total of 14 fine presentations. As there was no central theme, the papers were almost as diverse as the world’s butterfly fauna! There was an update on the conservation status of the Miami Blue, surveys of the Castniinae of Mexico and the diversity of butterflies of the Rondonia tropical forest and of the Bahama Islands. And there were papers on very specific issues such as the explanation and validity of Pterourus appalachiensis. One of the most original and inspiring papers was Cristina Dockx’ “Tracking Monarchs Isotopically,” which reported her research with thin layer chromatography, to “fingerprint” the milkweed species used by Monarchs, and subsequent isotope analysis of the hydrogen and carbon in their wing tissues to determine which are migrants to Cuba and which are native Cuban residents. A complete list of the papers presented may be found on the SLS website (

Highlighting the Saturday afternoon session was the awards presentation for 2003, two by the ATL — the Jacob Huebner Award to Dr. Ian F. B. Common and the Henry Bates Award to Dr. David H. Janzen — and one by SLS, the John Abbot Award, presented to yours truly.

It should be mentioned that food and friendship always comprise a memorable part of the annual meetings. This year was no exception. Saturday’s lunch buffet was held at DPI, provided courtesy of Tom Neal and Subway Sandwich Shops, and all the attendees were contentedly stuffed and very grateful. Dinner was a true feast, at the Voodoo Restaurant and Lounge, with some of the best sushi many of us have had in a long time. The evening banquet was punctuated by Dr. George Krizek’s superb slide presentation of “Skippers from South and Central America.”

The Sunday session, again moderated by Jackie Miller, began with the business meetings of the respective societies, the SLS component led by Bob Beiriger, with lively discussions and votes on several key issues. The first, and the one that drew the greatest input, concerned the appropri- ateness of publishing descriptions of new species and subspecies by SLS. It was pointed out that taxonomic changes need to be made in a peer reviewed scientific journal, not a regional newsletter. James Adams moved that we do not accept such articles for publication in the News for the time being. The motion passed. James Adams additionally pointed out, however, that the SLS Bulletin (though not published in many years [ever?]) is available for publishing articles dealing with matters of nomenclature, including description of new species. Another issue of concern was the widespread perception that SLS is essentially a Florida society, and a question was raised about the current method of nominating and electing officers. However, this was clarified by the unfortunate fact that it has been extremely difficult to find people from outside Florida willing to serve as officers, and that meetings held outside the state have been poorly attended. In his Treasurer’s Report, Jeff Slotten told the membership of the disturbing trend of fewer members paying their dues — currently only 91 out of 155 members. Because of the high cost of printing the NEWS, the treasury is critically low, only $1,138 as of August. A motion was made and passed that a warning stamp or label be placed in the final issue of the NEWS before expiration of the membership. Under new business, the possiblility of a spring field trip to south Florida was discussed but not decided. The slate of officers for 2004 was voted and approved unanimously and is as follows:

Bob Beiriger – Chairman
Barry Lombardini – Editor
Irving Finkelstein – Secretary
Jeff Slotten – Treasurer
Paul Milner – Membership Coordinator
Marc Minno – Member – at – Large
Dave Morgan – Website Manager

The final order of business was the motion to once again hold a joint meeting of the ATL and SLS in 2004, in Gainesville at about the same time of year, the specific dates to be determined based on the calendar of UF home football game weekends. The motion passed.

At the official conclusion of the meeting, most attendees joined Tom Emmel for a guided tour of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Research. The building is still a work in progress and its current state left it difficult to visualize the completed specific spaces and details, but all came away from the tour very impressed with the size and scope of the facility, and eager to return to see the finished product sometime in the spring of 2004. We can hardly wait!


Irving L. Finkelstein, Acting Secretary / Secretary Elect