A new genus and species of flower flies (Diptera: Syrphidae: Syrphinae: Syrphini) are described from central Africa (Kenya & Uganda), Afrostoma quadripunctatum. A key to the Afrotropical genera of the subfamily Syrphinae is given. A review of the melanostomine [Bacchini] genera and subgenera is provided along with a key to them. Phylogenetic placement of Afrostoma is included based on mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) data.
Recent phylogenetic analyses of Ocyptamus Macquart, 1834 (Diptera, Syrphidae) confirmed the paraphyly of this genus and provided evidence to divide it into several monophyletic subgroups, of which the largest is the clade traditionally treated as the Ocyptamus tristis species group. This group is here redefined, divided into the genera Pelecinobaccha Shannon, 1927 and Relictanum gen. nov., and revised along with the closely related and newly resurrected genus Atylobaccha Hull, 1949. Twenty-four new species (22 in Pelecinobaccha and two in Relictanum) are described and 35 species (27 in Pelecinobaccha, seven in Relictanum and Atylobaccha flukiella Curran, 1941) are redescribed. Pelecinobaccha is divided into four species groups (P. adspersa species group, P. brevipennis species group, P. peruviana species group and P. susio species group). An identification key, illustrations and distribution maps for all species from this study are also presented.
Palatable (Batesian) mimics of unprofitable models could use behavioral mimicry to compensate for the ease with which they can be visually discriminated or to augment an already close morphological resemblance. We evaluated these contrasting predictions by assaying the behavior of 57 field-caught species of mimetic hover flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and quantifying their morphological similarity to a range of potential hymenopteran models. A purpose-built phylogeny for the hover flies was used to control for potential lack of independence due to shared evolutionary history. Those hover fly species that engage in behavioral mimicry (mock stinging, leg waving, wing wagging) were all large wasp mimics within the genera Spilomyia and Temnostoma. While the behavioral mimics assayed were good morphological mimics, not all good mimics were behavioral mimics. Therefore, while the behaviors may have evolved to augment good morphological mimicry, they do not advantage all good mimics.
The Archiborborinae is a diverse Neotropical subfamily of Sphaeroceridae, with many undescribed species. The existing generic classification includes three genera consisting of brachypterous species, with all other species placed in the genus Archiborborus. We present the first phylogenetic hypothesis for the subfamily based on morphological, molecular, and combined datasets. Morphological data include 53 characters and cover all valid described taxa (33 species in 4 genera) in the subfamily, as well as 83 undescribed species. Molecular data for five genes (mitochondrial 12S rDNA, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, and cytochrome B, and nuclear alanyl-tRNA synthetase and 28S rDNA) were obtained for 21 ingroup taxa. Data support the separation of the Archiborborinae from the Copromyzinae, with which they were formerly combined. Analyses support consistent groups within the subfamily, but relationships between groups are poorly resolved. The validity of the brachypterous genera Penola Richards and Frutillaria Richards is supported. The former genus Archiborborus Duda is paraphyletic, and will be divided into monophyletic genera on the basis of this work. Aptery and brachyptery have evolved multiple times in the subfamily. Antrops Enderlein, previously including a single brachypterous species, is a senior synonym of Archiborborus.
Flies are one of four superradiations of insects (along with beetles, wasps, and moths) that account for the majority of animal life on Earth. Diptera includes species known for their ubiquity (Musca domestica house fly), their role as pests (Anopheles gambiae malaria mosquito), and their value as model organisms across the biological sciences (Drosophila melanogaster). A resolved phylogeny for flies provides a framework for genomic, developmental, and evolutionary studies by facilitating comparisons across model organisms, yet recent research has suggested that fly relationships have been obscured by multiple episodes of rapid diversification. We provide a phylogenomic estimate of fly relationships based on molecules and morphology from 149 of 157 families, including 30 kb from 14 nuclear loci and complete mitochondrial genomes combined with 371 morphological characters. Multiple analyses show support for traditional groups (Brachycera, Cyclorrhapha, and Schizophora) and corroborate contentious findings, such as the anomalous Deuterophlebiidae as the sister group to all remaining Diptera. Our findings reveal that the closest relatives of the Drosophilidae are highly modified parasites (including the wingless Braulidae) of bees and other insects. Furthermore, we use micro-RNAs to resolve a node with implications for the evolution of embryonic development in Diptera. We demonstrate that flies experienced three episodes of rapid radiation--lower Diptera (220 Ma), lower Brachycera (180 Ma), and Schizophora (65 Ma)--and a number of life history transitions to hematophagy, phytophagy, and parasitism in the history of fly evolution over 260 million y.
Direct observations of hilltopping behaviour in the thick-headed flies (Diptera: Conopidae) have only been mentioned once in the literature. Hilltop collecting, however, may be an effective way to survey these endparasitoids. The first evidence of hilltopping in species belonging to the subfamilies Myopinae and Dalmanniinae is presented and discussed. Field observations were conducted on Colle Vescovo, Italy and Mount Rigaud, Canada, and museum specimens were examined. Observations and records indicate that four species in the genera Dalmannia, Myopa, and Zodion are hilltoppers on Colle Vescovo, while three species in the genera Myopa and Physocephala are hilltoppers on three hilltops near Ottawa, Canada. Fifteen additional species of conopids have been collected on hilltops and could possibly utilize hilltops in some years as a part of their mating strategy. Detailed phenologies and observations of mating and perching behaviours are given for species in the genera Dalmannia, Myopa, Physocephala, and Zodion. The importance of hilltop habitat preservation is stressed.
A procedure for the isolation of target PCR bands from multiplex PCR products using the E-Gel iBase Power System, an E-Gel Safe Imager Real-Time Transilluminator, and E-Gel CloneWell 0.8% SYBR Safe agarose cassettes is presented. The collected isolates are suitable for direct use in sequencing reactions without need of further purification. Reductions in time spent per sample and cost per sequence produced compared to traditional "band-cutting" methods are demonstrated. An added benefit is that the new procedure does not require exposure to ethidium bromide or ultraviolet radiation.
The first attempt to phylogenetically place Conopidae using molecular characters, as well as the largest molecular analysis of relationships within Schizophora (Diptera) to date, is presented. Twenty-eight taxa from 11 acalyptrate families and seven acalyptrate superfamilies are represented. Nearly 12,800 bp of sequence data from 10 genes representing both mitochondrial (cytochrome oxidase I (COI), cytochrome b (cytB), and 12S) and nuclear genes (28S, the carbamoyl phosphate synthetase region of CAD (CAD), elongation factor-1alpha (EF-1alpha), white, alanyl-tRNA synthetase (AATS), triose phosphate isomerase (TPI), and phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (PGD)) are analysed. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses strongly support the monophyly of both Conopidae and Schizophora. While in the parsimony analysis, Conopidae are placed as sister to the remaining Schizophora, the Bayesian analysis recovers a Conopidae+Lauxaniidae clade. The value of nuclear, mitochondrial, ribosomal, and protein-coding gene sequence data for answering phylogenetic questions at different levels of divergence is evaluated.
Animal communication signals can be highly elaborate, and researchers have long sought explanations for their evolutionary origins. For example, how did signals such as the tail-fan display of a peacock, a firefly flash or a wolf howl evolve? Animal communication theory holds that many signals evolved from non-signalling behaviours through the process of ritualization. Empirical evidence for ritualization is limited, as it is necessary to examine living relatives with varying degrees of signal evolution within a phylogenetic framework. We examine the origins of vibratory territorial signals in caterpillars using comparative and molecular phylogenetic methods. We show that a highly ritualized vibratory signal--anal scraping--originated from a locomotory behaviour--walking. Furthermore, comparative behavioural analysis supports the hypothesis that ritualized vibratory signals derive from physical fighting behaviours. Thus, contestants signal their opponents to avoid the cost of fighting. Our study provides experimental evidence for the origins of a complex communication signal, through the process of ritualization.
Understanding the ecology and evolutionary history of symbionts and their hosts requires accurate taxonomic knowledge, including clear species boundaries and phylogenies. Tortoise mites (Mesostigmata: Uropodoidea) are among the most diverse arthropod associates of bark beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), but their taxonomy and host associations are largely unstudied. We tested the hypotheses that (1) morphologically defined species are supported by molecular data, and that (2) bark beetle uropodoids with a broad host range comprise cryptic species. To do so, we assessed the species boundaries of uropodoid mites collected from 51 host species, across 11 countries and 103 sites, using morphometric data as well as partial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA (28S). Overall, morphologically defined species were confirmed by molecular datasets, with a few exceptions. Twenty-nine of the 36 uropodoid species (Trichouropoda, Nenteria and Uroobovella) collected in this study had narrow host ranges, while seven species had putative broad host ranges. In all but one species, U. orri, our data supported the existence of these host generalists, which contrasts with the typical finding that widespread generalists are actually complexes of cryptic specialists.
Uroobovella (Mesostigmata: Uropodoidea: Urodinychidae) species are among the most common mites associated with carrion-feeding Nicrophorus (Silphidae) beetles. Previous taxonomic understanding suggests that a single host generalist, U. nova, disperses and lives with Nicrophorus species worldwide (reported from at least seven host species). Using morphometrics and morphological characteristics, as well as partial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and the entire internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) markers, we tested whether this apparent generalist is truly a generalist or rather a complex of cryptic species with narrower host ranges. Based on deutonymph mites collected from 14 host species across six countries and 17 provinces or states, we show that U. nova represents at least five morphologically similar species with relatively restricted host ranges. Except for one species which yielded no molecular data (but did exhibit morphological differences), both molecular and morphological datasets were congruent in delimiting species boundaries. Moreover, comparing the mite phylogeny with the known ecology and phylogenetic relationships of their host species suggests that these mites are coevolving with their silphid hosts rather than tracking ecologically similar species.
Although exceptional examples of adaptation are frequently celebrated, some outcomes of natural selection seem far from perfect. For example, many hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) are harmless (Batesian) mimics of stinging Hymenoptera. However, although some hoverfly species are considered excellent mimics, other species bear only a superficial resemblance to their models and it is unclear why this is so. To evaluate hypotheses that have been put forward to explain interspecific variation in the mimetic fidelity of Palearctic Syrphidae we use a comparative approach. We show that the most plausible explanation is that predators impose less selection for mimetic fidelity on smaller hoverfly species because they are less profitable prey items. In particular, our findings, in combination with previous results, allow us to reject several key hypotheses for imperfect mimicry: first, human ratings of mimetic fidelity are positively correlated with both morphometric measures and avian rankings, indicating that variation in mimetic fidelity is not simply an illusion based on human perception; second, no species of syrphid maps out in multidimensional space as being intermediate in appearance between several different hymenopteran model species, as the multimodel hypothesis requires; and third, we find no evidence for a negative relationship between mimetic fidelity and abundance, which calls into question the kin-selection hypothesis. By contrast, a strong positive relationship between mimetic fidelity and body size supports the relaxed-selection hypothesis, suggesting that reduced predation pressure on less profitable prey species limits the selection for mimetic perfection.
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