05 October 2011

Finding The Fly Tree of Life - The Poster!

Fly diversity is unimaginably huge: over 150,000 species in 150+ families that evolved over 240 million years. Hard to picture? Take a look at this poster, FINDING THE FLY TREE OF LIFE, a visual summary of fly diversity and evolution taken from the FLYTREE results published earlier this year. It includes an image of every currently recognized family of flies (depending on your classification), and shows our current "best guess" of how fly families are related, based on analysis of DNA sequences.

This public-friendly poster is part of the outreach component of the FLYTREE project, and is meant to help publicize the project and fly diversity in general. Feel free to print, distribute, or advertise. Thanks to all who gave permission to use their images, especially Tom Murray and others at www.bugguide.net.

14 March 2011

Map of the Fly Tree of Life Published!

Hailed as the "new periodic table for flies," the National Science Foundation funded FLYTREE project published its findings in the March 14, 2011 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Wiegmann, B.M., Trautwein, M.D., Winkler, I.S., Barr, N.B., Kim, J.-W., Lambkin, C., Bertone, M.A., Cassel, B.K., Bayless, K.M., Heimberg, A.M., Wheeler, B.M., Peterson, K.J., Pape, T., Sinclair, B.J., Skevington, J.H., Blagoderov, V., Caravas, J., Kutty, S.N., Schmidt-Ott, U., Kampmeier, G.E., Thompson, F.C., Grimaldi, D.A., Beckenbach, A.T., Courtney, G.W., Friedrich, M., Meier, R., and Yeates, D.K. 2011. Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life.


08 December 2010

Rediscovering World's Rarest Fly

News of the rediscovery by Ashley Kirk-Spriggs (National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa) and Robert Copeland (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya) of a fly species not seen in more than 60 years delighted dipterists all over the world. Although the fly, Mormotomyia hirsuta, or the Terrible Hairy Fly, was found in 1933 and again in 1948, no amount of digging around in bat guano in the only spot from which the species is known had turned it up again until now. Because this species is not only the sole member of its genus, but of its family, the rediscovery at a time when molecular analysis can be added to morphological assessments is exciting news to those working on understanding the relationships among the higher flies. See http://www.nasmus.co.za/museum/news/world’s-rarest-fly-rediscovered

Mormotomyia hirsuta (male)
Mormotomyia hirsuta, male; photo by Robert Copeland

28 June 2010

The Eyes have it!

Four of the six featured photos in Wired's latest close-up of "crazy bug eyes" are flies!

14 May 2010

Drain flies spark a lumper/splitter debate

You've likely seen them in your bathroom or at a public toilet: drain flies in the family Psychodidae. They flit from wall to wall where they cling like flecks of dust. Their hairy wings, antennae, and bodies are cute or scruffy, depending on your point of view. Barb Sharanowski featured one species on the North Carolina Insect Museum's Insect of the Week. Her post brought comments by taxonomists talking about which taxonomic concept should be accepted for this fly: Telmatoscopus albipunctata Williston, 1983 or Clogmia albipunctata (Williston, 1983). This species was sequenced for the FLYTREE project.

10 April 2010

Dr. Art Borkent, biting midge expert, featured

Known as the world expert on the systematics of families of midges (small, often annoying flies that may bite), Art Borkent was featured in Spotlight our Taxonomist in the journal Zootaxa. He was awarded the prestigious J.O. Westwood Medal for Excellence in Insect Taxonomy by the Royal Entomological Society, in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London, for his monograph on The Frog-Biting Midges of the World (Corethrellidae: Diptera), which was published in Zootaxa.

09 October 2009

In the Year of Darwin, Darwin Core Standard Ratified!

The TDWG Executive Committee announces the official ratification of Darwin

Core (http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/index.htm) as a TDWG standard.

Darwin Core joins four other TDWG standards- http://www.tdwg.org/standards/

that provide a reference for sharing information about biodiversity. Lead

author, John Wieczorek, and his co-authors, Markus Döring, Renato de

Giovanni, Tim Robertson, and Dave Vieglais have done an amazing job in

writing, organizing, and dealing with feedback during the review process. We

can only have a small insight into the effort that John and his team have

invested in Darwin Core.

We also appreciate the work that Gail Kampmeier has done as Review Manager

since her appointment in February 2009. There was an initial peer review

followed by two months of public review, punctuated by ongoing discussions

and periodic updating of the draft standard now being ratified by the TDWG

Executive Committee.

John, Markus, Renato, Tim, Dave and Gail deserve contributions of good

French wine in Montpellier! Thank you and congratulations to all who


Donald Hobern, Chairman, TDWG.