Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

John Burns

Curator Emeritus of Lepidoptera
Department / Division
Education
  • AB (Biology) Johns Hopkins Univ. 
  • MA (Zoology) UC-Berkeley
  • PhD (Zoology) UC-Berkeley
Research Interests

I am mainly interested in problems at and around the species level, in the process of speciation, and in evolution; and I work mostly on a family of distinctive butterflies called skippers.  With perhaps as many as 5,000 species worldwide, skippers are especially rich in species in the New World tropics.

Publications
Article
  • Bächtold, Alexandra, Kaminski, Lucas A., Magaldi, Luiza M., Oliveira, Paulo S., Del-Claro, Kleber, Janzen, Daniel H., Burns, John M., Grishin, Nick, Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, Hallwachs, Winnie, and Freitas, André V. L. 2017. "Integrative data helps the assessment of a butterfly within the Udranomia kikkawai species complex (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae): Immature stages, natural history, and molecular evidence." Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology 266:169–176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcz.2016.11.009
  • Ge, Dengteng, Wu, Gaoxiang, Yang, Lili, Kim, Hye-Na, Hallwachs, Winnie, Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., and Yang, Shu. 2017. "Varying and unchanging whiteness on the wings of dusk-active and shade-inhabiting Carystoides escalantei butterflies." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (28):7379–7384. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1701017114
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Burns, John M., Cong, Qian, Hallwachs, Winnie, Dapkey, Tanya, Manjunath, Ramya, Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, Hebert, Paul D. N., and Grishin, Nick V. 2017. "Nuclear genomes distinguish cryptic species suggested by their DNA barcodes and ecology." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (31):8313–8318. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1621504114
  • Burns, John M. 2015. "Speciation in an Insular Sand Dune Habitat: Atrytonopsis (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)-Mainly from the Southwestern United States and Mexico-Off the North Carolina Coast." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 69 (4):275–292.
  • Bertrand, Claudia, Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Burns, John M., Gibson, Joel F., Shokralla, Shadi, and Hajibabaei, Mehrdad. 2014. "Mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenetic analysis with Sanger and next-generation sequencing shows that, in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, northwestern Costa Rica, the skipper butterfly named Urbanus belli (family Hesperiidae) comprises three morphologically cryptic species." Bmc Evolutionary Biology 14:153–153. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-14-153
  • Fernandez-Triana, Jose L., Whitfield, James B., Rodriguez, Josephine J., Smith, M. Alex, Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, Burns, John M., Solis, M. Alma, Brown, John W., Cardinal, Sophie, Goulet, Henri, and Hebert, Paul D. N. 2014. "Review of Apanteles sensu stricto (Hymenoptera, Braconidae, Microgastrinae) from Area de Conservación Guanacaste, northwestern Costa Rica, with keys to all described species from Mesoamerica." ZooKeys 383 (Special issue):1–565. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.383.6418
  • Grishin, Nick V., Burns, John M., Brockmann, Ernst, Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Janzen, Daniel H. 2014. "A Cryptic New Jemadia (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae: Pyrrhopygini) from Costa Rica and Panama with a Subtly Distinctive Combination of Blue Rays and White Bands." Journal of the Lepidopterists Society 68 (4):232–247.
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Hajibabaei, Mehrdad. 2013. "DNA Barcodes Reveal Yet Another New Species of Venada (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) in Northwestern Costa Rica." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 115 (1):37–47. https://doi.org/10.4289/0013-8797.115.1.37
  • Grishin, Nick V., Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Hajibabaei, Mehrdad. 2013. "Oxynetra: Facies and DNA barcodes point to a new species from Costa Rica (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae: Pyrrhopygini)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 67 (1):1–14.
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Burns, John M., Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, Bertrand, Claudia, and Hebert, Paul D. N. 2011. "Reading the Complex Skipper Butterfly Fauna of One Tropical Place." Plos One 6 (8):1–15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0019874
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., and Hallwachs, Winnie D. 2010. "Of Many Similar Species in the Neotropical Genus Porphyrogenes (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), a New One, Repeatedly Reared in Costa Rica, is Relatively Distinct." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 112 (1):32–42. https://doi.org/10.4289/0013-8797.112.1.32
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, and Hebert, Paul D. N. 2010. "Genitalia, DNA barcodes, larval facies, and foodplants place the mimetic species Neoxeniades molion in Rhinthon (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae).." Journal of the Lepidopterists Society 64 (2):69–78.
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, and Hebert, Paul D. N. 2010. "Genitalia, DNA barcodes, larval facies, and foodplants place the mimetic species Neoxeniades molion in Rhinthon (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)." Journal of The Lepidopterists' Society 64 (2):69–78.
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Burns, John M. 2010. "A tropical horde of counterfeit predator eyes." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (26):11659–11665. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0912122107
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Hajibabaei, Mehrdad, and Hebert, Paul D. N. 2009. "Genitalia, DNA barcodes, and life histories synonymize Telles with Thracides--a genus in which Telles arcalaus looks out of place (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 63 (3):141–153.
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Blandin, Patrick, Burns, John M., Cadiou, Jean-Marie, Chacon, Isidro, Dapkey, Tanya, Deans, Andrew R., Epstein, Marc E., Espinoza, B., Franclemont, J., Haber, W., Hajibabaei, M., Hallwachs, J., Hebert, Paul D. N., Gauld, I. D., Harvey, D., Hausmann, A., Kitching, Ian, Lafontaine, D., Landry, J. F., Lemaire, C., Miller, Jacqueline Y., Miller, James S., Miller, Lee et al. 2009. "Integration of DNA barcoding into an ongoing inventory of complex tropical biodiversity." Molecular Ecology Resources 9 (S1):1–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-0998.2009.02628.x
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hajibabaei, M., Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Hebert, P. D. N. 2008. "DNA barcodes and cryptic species of skipper butterflies in the genus Perichares in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105 (17):6350–6355. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0712181105
  • Fordyce, J. A., Forister, M. L., Nice, C. C., Burns, John M., and Shapiro, A. M. 2008. "Patterns of genetic variation between the checkered skippers Pyrgus communis and Pyrgus albescens (Lepidoptera : hesperiidae)." Annals of the Entomological Society of America 101 (4):794–800. https://doi.org/10.1603/0013-8746(2008)101[794:POGVBT]2.0.CO
  • Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., Hajibabaei, M., Hallwachs, Winnie D., and Hebert, P. D. N. 2007. "DNA barcodes of closely related (but morphologically and ecologically distinct) species of skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae) can differ by only one to three nucleotides." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 61 (3):138–153.
  • Collins, M. M., Powell, J. A., Burns, John M., and Opler, P. A. 2006. "Remembering Don MacNeill [obituary]." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 60:107–114.
  • Hajibabael, M., Janzen, Daniel H., Burns, John M., and Hebert, D. N. 2006. "DNA barcodes distinguish species of tropical Lepidoptera." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103 (4):968–971.
  • Burns, John M. and Janzen, Daniel H. 2005. "Pan-neotropical genus Venada (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae) is not monotypic: Four new species occur on one volcano in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 59:19–34.
  • Burns, John M. and Janzen, Daniel H. 2005. "What's in a name? Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae: Telemiades Hubner 1819 [Pyrdalus Mabille 1903]: new combinations Telemiades corbulo (Stoll) and Telemiades oiclus (Mabille)--and more." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 107:770–781.
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Hajibabaei, M., Burns, John M., Hallwachs, Winnie D., Remigio, E., and Hebert, D. N. 2005. "Wedding biodiversity inventory of a large and complex Lepidoptera fauna with DNA barcoding." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 360:1835–1845.
  • Hebert, P. D. N., Penton, E. H., Burns, John M., Janzen, Daniel H., and Hallwachs, Winnie D. 2004. "Ten species in one: DNA barcoding reveals cryptic species in the neotropical skipper butterfly Astraptes fulgerator." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101:14812–14817.
  • Burns, John M. and Janzen, Daniel H. 1999. "Drephalys: Division of this Showy Neotropical Genus, Plus a New Species and the Immatures and Food Plants of Two Species from Costa Rican Dry Forest (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 53 (3):77–89.
  • Burns, John M. 1998. "Pseydodrephalys: A New Genus Comprising Three Showy, Neotropical Species (One New) Removed From--And Quite Remote From--Drephalys (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 52 (4):364–380.
  • Janzen, Daniel H., Sharkey, M. J., and Burns, John M. 1998. "Parasitization Biology of a New Species of Braconidae (Hymenoptera) Feeding on the Larvae of Costa Rican Dry Forest Skippers (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)." Tropical Lepidoptera 9:33–41.
  • Burns, John M. 1997. "Presidential Address 1996: On the Beauties, Uses, Variation, and Handling of Genitalia." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 51 (1):1–8.
  • Burns, John M. 1996. "Genitalia and the proper genus: Codatractus gets mysie and uvydixa--in a compact cyda group--as well as a hysterectomy, while Cephise gets part of Polythrix (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 50:173–216.
  • Burns, John M. 1995. "John M. Burns, new president of the Lepidopterists' Society." News of the Lepidopterists' Society 4:79–80.
  • Burns, John M. 1994. "The Sex of Duskywings." American Butterflies 2 (3):19.
  • Burns, John M. 1994. "Genitalia at the Generic Level: Atrytone Restricted, Anatrytone Resurrected, New Genus Quasimellana--and Yes! We Have No Mellanas.." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 48 (4):273–337.
  • Burns, John M. 1994. "Split Skippers: Mexican Genus Poanopsis Goes in the Origenes Group--and Yvretta Forms the Rhesus Group--of Polites (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 48 (1):24–45.
  • Burns, John M. 1992. "Genitalic Recasting of Poanes and Paratrytone (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 46 (1):1–23.
  • Burns, John M. 1992. "Genitalic Characterization, Enlargement, and Reassociation of Neotropical Hesperiine Genus Halotus (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 46 (3):182–194.
  • Burns, John M. 1990. "Amblyscirtes: Problems with Species, Species Groups, the Limits of the Genus, and Genus Groups Beyond--A Look at What is Wrong with the Skipper Classification of Evans (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 44 (1):16–17.
  • Burns, John M. 1990. [Book review] "Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers, by M. R. Berenbaum." Quartarterly Review of Biology. 65:490.
  • Burns, John M. 1989. "Phylogeny and Zoogreography of the Bigger and Better Genus Atalopedes (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 43 (1):11–32.
  • Burns, John M. 1987. "The Big Shift: Nabokovi from Atalopedes to Hesperia (Hesperiidae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 41 (4):173–186.
  • Burns, John M. 1987. "Carnival." Perspectives in biology and medicine 30:607.
  • Burns, John M. 1985. "Wallengrenia otho and W. egeremet in Eastern North America (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology (423): 1–39. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.423
  • Burns, John M. 1984. "Evolutionary Differentiation: Differentiating Gold-Banded Skippers--Autochton cellus and More (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology (405): 1–38. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.405
  • Burns, John M. 1983. "Biomodels." Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 29 (2):37.
  • Burns, John M. 1983. "Queen of the Carolinas (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae: Danaus gilippus)." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 85 (2):388–396.
  • Burns, John M. 1983. "Superspecies Atrytonopsis ovinia (A. ovinia plus A. edwardsi) and the Nonadaptive Nature of Interspecific Genitalic Differences (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 85 (2):335–358.
  • Burns, John M. 1982. "Lychnuchoides frappenda from Central Mexico Joins Lunus and Zweifeli in a Lunus Group of Atrytonopsis (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 84 (3):547–567.
  • Burns, John M. 1981. "The Winter's Springtail." Perspectives in biology and medicine 25 (1):92.
  • Burns, John M. 1980. "Bone Man." MCZ Newsletter 9 (2):4–5.
  • Burns, John M. 1980. "Beginnings and Ends." Perspectives in biology and medicine 24 (1):60.
  • Burns, John M. 1979. "Oedipus Curtailed." Perspectives in biology and medicine 22 (2):169.
  • Burns, John M. 1979. "Finite Wisdom." Perspectives in biology and medicine 22 (2):249.
  • Burns, John M. 1975. [Book review] "Butterflies: Their World, Their Life Cycle, Their Behavior, by T. C. Emmel." Smithsonian. 6 (9):130–132.
  • Burns, John M. 1974. "Human Evolution in a Nutshell." MCZ Newsletter 3 (2):7.
  • Burns, John M. 1974. "The Polytypic Genus Celotes (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae) from the Southwestern United States and Mexico." Psyche 81 (1):51–69.
  • Webster, T. P. and Burns, John M. 1973. "Dewlap Color Variation and Electrophoretically Detected Sibling Species in a Haitian Lizard, Anolis brevirostris." Evolution 27 (3):368–377.
  • Burns, John M. and Johnson, F. M. 1971. "Esterase Polymorphism in the Butterfly Hemiargus isola: Stability in a Variable Environment." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 68 (1):34–37.
  • Powell, J. A. and Burns, John M. 1971. "Colonization of the Northeastern United States by Two Paleartic Moths (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)." Psyche 78 (1-2):38–48.
  • Burns, John M. 1970. "Highly Polymorphic Butterfly Esterases." Isozyme Bulletin 3:49–50.
  • Burns, John M. 1970. "Secondary Symmetry of Asymmetric Genitalia in Males of Erynnis funeralis and E. propertius (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)." Psyche 77 (4):430–435.
  • Burns, John M. 1970. "Duration of Copulation in Poanes hobomok (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) and some Broader Speculations." Psyche 77 (1):127–130.
  • Burns, John M. 1969. "Cryptic Sleeping Posture of a Skipper Butterfly, Erynnis brizo." Psyche 76 (4):382–386.
  • Burns, John M. and Kendall, R. O. 1969. "Ecologic and Spatial Distribution of Pyrgus oileus and Pyrgus philetas (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) at their Northern Distributional Limits." Psyche 76 (1):41–53.
  • Burns, John M. 1968. "Mating Frequency in Natural Populations of Skippers and Butterflies as Determined by Spermatophore Counts." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 61 (3):852–859.
  • Burns, John M. 1968. "A Simple Model Illustrating Problems of Phylogeny and Classification." Systematic Zoology 17 (2):170–173.
  • Burns, John M. 1967. "Selective Forces in Papilio glaucus." Science 156-num-3774):534.
  • Burns, John M. and Johnson, F. M. 1967. "Esterase Polymorphism in Natural Populations of a Sulfur Butterfly, Colias eurytheme." Science 156-num-3771):93–96.
  • Burns, John M. 1966. "Expanding Distribution and Evolutionary Potential of Thymelicus lineola (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), an Introduced Skipper, with Special Reference to its Appearance in British Columbia." Canadian Entomologist 98:859–866.
  • Burns, John M. 1966. [Book review] "Our Butterflies and Moths, by W. H. Howe." The Quarterly Review of Biology. 41:51.
  • Burns, John M. 1966. "Preferential Mating Versus Mimicry: Disruptive Selection and Sex-limited Dimorphism in Papilio glaucus." Science 153-num-3735):551–553.
  • Johnson, F. M. and Burns, John M. 1966. "Electrophoretic Variation in Esterases of Colias eurytheme (Pieridae)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 20 (4):207–211.
  • Apter, R. L. and Burns, John M. 1965. "First Connecticut Records of Thymelicus lineola, an Introduced Hesperiid." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 19 (4):195–196.
  • Burns, John M. 1964. "Evolution in Skipper Butterflies of the Genus Erynnis." University of California Publications in Entomology 37:1–216.
  • Burns, John M. 1962. [Book review] "How to Know the Butterflies, by P. R. and A. H. Ehrlich." Entomological News. 73 (6):165–167.
  • Burns, John M. 1960. "A New Species of Oak-Eating Erynnis (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) Restricted to the Southern Cordillera of the United States." Wasmann Journal of Biology 18 (1):147–160.
  • Burns, John M. 1956. "Problems in Zoological Polymorphism." The Scientific Monthly 82 (2):75–84.

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Chapter
  • Burns, John M. 1996. "Gutless wonder." in Integrated Principles of Zoology, edited by Hickman, C. P., Jr., Roberts, L. S., and Larson, A., 291.
  • Burns, John M. 1987. "Lines to an Angler Fish." in Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology, edited by Pietsch, T. W. and Grobecker, D. B., vii. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Burns, John M. 1981. "The Baculum." in Sexuality: The Human Experience, edited by Gotwald, W. H., Jr. and Golden, G. H., 54. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Burns, John M. 1980. "Conform." in Selected Readings in Sociobiology, edited by Hunt, J. H., vi. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.
  • Burns, John M. 1975. "Isozymes in Evolutionary Systematics." in Isozymes, IV: Genetics and Evolution, 49–62.