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Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment

About the Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment

The Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment (ALRE) was established by Drs Marianne Horak and Douglas Hilton within the Perpetual Foundation, in memory of Ebbe Nielsen and his dedication to Australian Lepidoptera and the ANIC by generous gifts from the Estates of Ebbe Nielsen and of Judith Clark. It is sustained by generous donations from donors.

It wishes to support taxonomic and phylogenetic research on Australian moths and butterflies by professional and amateur entomologists, and to enhance the curation of the Lepidoptera collection at the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC).

The need for support of research on Australian Lepidoptera

Moths and butterflies are an iconic part of Australia’s landscape. For many of us they represent one of our first memories of the beauty of nature. They play a crucial role in our diverse ecosystems, acting as obligate pollinators for iconic plant species like Boronia and as essential components of our eucalypt forests. They are sentinels to the health of our environment and are important indicator species in conservation efforts. As introduced and endemic pests they have the potential to profoundly affect our agricultural sector and our economy.

To understand our moths and butterflies requires we appreciate the extent of their diversity, that we provide them with names, unravel their evolutionary relationships and determine their life histories. Australia has a rich moth fauna, estimated to number 30,000 or more species, and is a global hot-spot for many families of moths, especially primitive moths that can provide insight into early Lepidoptera evolution. Despite their importance and scientific interest, at best a third of our species have names and have been described scientifically and we understand the life-cycle of perhaps a few hundred species in any detail.

Many important scientific questions about moths and butterflies remain unanswered and, because of cuts to the budgets of CSIRO, Universities and Museums and funding agencies such as the ABRS and ARC, research into Australian Moths and Butterflies has stalled. The Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment aims to fill this void.

Why support research on Australian Lepidoptera?

Australia has a very rich Lepidoptera fauna, estimated to number at least 30,000 species of which at best one third have been named. Our fauna also is unique with a high number of taxa not occurring anywhere else, including 5 endemic families, the last of those, the Aenigmatineidae, described in January 2015.



The Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment can be supported by:

  • Individual donations

  • Annual contributions

  • Donations through bequests

Donations to the Perpetual Foundation - Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment are managed by Perpetual.


Due to the administration of tax-deductible donations, AU$ 5000 is the minimal donation that can be accepted into the Endowment.



Our Donors

The Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment would like to acknowledge and thank the following estates and individual whose gifts have made research into Australian moths and butterflies possible.

Estate of Ebbe Nielsen

Estate of Judith Clark

Robyn Noel

The Hilton Family

John Landy

Len and Gail Willan

Don Sands

John Nielsen

Gary Harris

Our Bequestors

There is so much more that remains to be discovered about Australia’s beautiful moths and butterflies. No matter how young or old you are, and no matter the size your gift will be, remembering us in your will is a generous and important way that you can help. We gratefully acknowledge the following individuals for including the Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment as one of the beneficiaries of their will.

Marianne Horak

Douglas Hilton

Ian Clark

Donors and Bequestors

Scientific Advisory Committee

The Australian Lepidoptera Research Endowment is overseen by a scientific advisory committee of three people. The Advisory Committee will be responsible for selecting a chairperson and recruiting new members as required. It will make all decisions on which research or curatorial activities will be supported and give distribution recommendations from the Endowment to the trustee, Perpetual. The Advisory Committee will take into consideration individual donor wishes when making funding recommendations.

Dr Marianne Horak (Chairperson)

Dr Horak retired in 2010 as head of Lepidoptera Research at ANIC and is currently an Honorary Research Fellow. She was the recipient of the inaugural JO Westwood Medal by the Royal Entomological Society and is editor in chief of the series, Monographs Of Australian Lepidoptera. She is best known for her work on Australian Tortricidae and the iconic scribbly gum moths.


Prof. Douglas Hilton


Prof Hilton is Director of The Walter And Eliza Hall Institute Of Medical Research and a Fellow of the Australian Academies of Science and of Technological Science and Engineering. He is an amateur entomologist and recently co-published the first revision of Australian Cossidae in 50 years. He is currently revising a family of small, primitive, day-flying moths, the Heliozelidae, that were last examined in detail by Ebbe Nielsen as part of his unpublished PhD dissertation. He serves on numerous scientific advisory board and research committees including the Hermon Slade Foundation.   

​Prof. John Stocker


Prof. Stocker is an immunologist who worked for many years in the private sector. He served as CEO of CSIRO from 1990 to 1995 and as Chief Scientist of Australia from 1995 to 1999. He returned to CSIRO in 2007 as Chairman, a position he held until 2010. The koala scat moth, Telanepsia stockeri Common & Horak was named after John Stocker in appreciation of his great interest in biodiversity and his support for the ANIC.

Acknowledgements to CSIRO Publishing for the scat moth image from Common and Horak, Four new species of Telanepsia Turner (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae) with larvae feeding on koala and possum scats, Invertebrate Taxonomy, 1994, 8, 809-828.​

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