Staff Profile: Vladimir Lukhtanov

Visiting Scientist

Vladimir Lukhtanov is a senior research scientist in the department of karyosystematics at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and is affiliated with the entomology department of St. Petersburg State University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1986. Though principally employed to conduct research, Lukhtanov has taught a number of courses from forest entomology to molecular evolution and phylogenetics, and advised many graduate students, who are now working in Belgium, Russia and the United States. Lukhtanov has published a book on butterflies of northwest Asia and written dozens of professional articles, including a paper in Nature that was rated by the journal Science as one of the main scientific breakthroughs of 2005.

Lukhtanov has organized and participated in 35 entomological expeditions to different, poorly explored regions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. During these expeditions, he has studied numerous butterfly and moth species with a special focus on ecology and analysis of contact and overlap zones between closely related taxa. He uses these field studies for delimitation of species boundaries and employs a wide array of taxonomic tools in his research, from traditional morphological museum-based studies to the most modern methods of molecular systematics.

One of Lukhtanov's main interests is the phenomena of speciation, especially interactions between chromosomal change and evolution of pre-zygotic reproductive isolation and their role in generating species diversity. Recently he and his research group pioneered the use of new methods in analysis of molecular data for phylogenetics. Lukhtanov also is researching revisionary taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics and phylogeography of Palearctic butterflies, with special attention to the complicated and species-rich genera of Lycaenidae (e.g., Polyommatus), satyrine nymphalids (e.g., Coenonympha, Oeneis) and Papilionidae, specifically the genus Parnassius.

McGuire Center: Vladimir Lukhtanov is a visiting scientist and curator at the McGuire Center, working on Palearctic butterflies. He has contributed tremendously to the curation of Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae) of the Old World.