Diversity of Nematocerous Diptera

Diptera, or true flies, are among Earth's most species-rich groups of organisms. Biting and nonbiting midges make up over 10% of the species, with a disproportionate number that are economically and medically important, including those that feed on blood, transmit disease agents, and facilitate aquatic nutrient cycling. Research will focus on net-winged midges, nonbiting midges, meniscus midges, sand/moth flies, black flies, and solitary midges; all are taxonomically challenging, understudied, and insufficiently staffed with expertise. The project will provide new information on biodiversity and ecology of these flies and a phylogenetic framework for natural classification and testing of biological hypotheses. New species will be described, identification keys prepared, and phylogenetic analyses conducted using morphological, molecular, and cytological data.

The project team will educate the next generation of taxonomic experts through a synergistic process involving workshops and integrated methodologies and collaborations. The work will involve applications of modern technology, including internet-accessible electronic publications and identification keys, digital image galleries of specimens, digital reproductions of taxonomic literature, electronic species distribution maps, nomenclatural databases, and interactive databases of GIS-compatible specimen data. Museum collections will be augmented with material from fieldwork. Long-term benefits will include infusion of taxonomic and biodiversity expertise into the scientific community.

The Diptera are an extraordinarily abundant group of insects that includes midges, mosquitoes, and many other familiar two-winged flies. They are among the richest insect orders, with >152,000 described species (Evenhuis et al. 2007), and are remarkably diverse in structure, habitat, behavior, and societal impact (e.g., Hennig 1973, Brown 2001, Pape 2009). Some of the most common and easily recognized flies, including black flies (Simuliidae), common midges (Chironomidae), and moth flies (Psychodidae) belong to the nematocerous Diptera, a group of ˜40 families and more than 52,000 species worldwide (Courtney et al. 2009). In focusing on the systematics of nematocerous Diptera, we have selected six families (Blephariceridae, Chironomidae, Dixidae, Psychodidae, Simuliidae, and Thaumaleidae) that bridge aquatic and terrestrial environments, collectively make up the majority of species numbers and biomass in most aquatic ecosystems, and are in dire need of taxonomic study.


Adler, P. H., Y.-T. Huang & H. Takaoka. 2012. Nearctic-Palearctic relationships of black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae): chromosomal and morphological evidence for the Prosimulium magnum species group in Japan. Journal of Natural History 46:1467-1475. DOI:10.1080/00222933.2012.673644.

Adler, P. H., Y. T. Huang, W. K. Reeves, S. K. Kim, Y. Otsuka & H. Takaoka. 2013. Macrogenomic evidence for the origin of the black fly Simulium suzukii (Diptera: Simuliidae) on Okinawa Island, Japan. PLOS ONE 8(8): e70765. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070765

Adler, P. H. & U. Sirin. 2014. Cytotaxonomy of the Prosimulium (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Western Asia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (in press). 

Cherairia, M., P. H. Adler & B. Samraoui. 2014. Biodiversity and bionomics of the black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of northeastern Algeria. Zootaxa 3796: 166-174.

Huang, Y.-T. & P. H. Adler. 2011. Chromosomal relationships of Simulium suzukii, an Old World member of the Simulium tuberosum species group (Diptera: Simuliidae). Medical Entomology and Zoology 62: 23-30.

Huang, Y. T., P. H. Adler & H. Takaoka. 2012. Polytene chromosomes of Simulium arakawae, a pest species in the Simulium venustum species group (Diptera: Simuliidae) from Japan. Tropical Biomedicine 28: 376-381.

Khazeni, A., P. H. Adler, Z. Telmadareiiy, M. A. Oshaghi, H. Vatandoost, S. M. Abtahi & A. Lofti. 2013. The black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Iran. Zootaxa 3694: 67-74.

Reeves, W. K. & P. H. Adler. 2011. Colonization of Pacific islands by black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 113: 371-376.

Senatore, G. L., E. A. Alexander, P. H. Adler & J. K. Moulton. 2014. Molecular fingerprinting of black flies in the Simulium jenningsi species group (Diptera: Simuliidae): phylogenetic and practical implications. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 75: 138-148.

Swanson, D. A. & W. L. Grogan. 2011. A new predaceous midge in Brachypogon (Brachypogon) from Alabama and Florida, USA and new distribution records for Brachypogon woodruffi Spinelli and Grogan (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 113: 531-540.

Swanson, D. A. & W. K. Reeves. 2011. New records of biting midges (Diptera, Ceratopogonidae) from Guam Island. Check List 7: 313-314.


More information at the University of Tennessee MidgePEET page.