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Charting biodiversity: Scuttle flies and other poorly known insects in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Naturhistoriska riksmuseet. (Zoology)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9294-3078
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Biodiversity has fascinated people in all times. We as a species are part of the global ecosystem and our survival depends on many other species around us. Charting biodiversity, however, has proven more difficult than one could imagine. When Linnaeus and others started describing which species there are on Earth, people in general, and taxonomists in particular, could not imagine that we would not be finished 300 years later and even less that we would not be able to tell exactly how much there is left to describe.

In this PhD thesis, I deal with relatively large organisms (compared to the average size of organisms left to be described), namely insects in general and scuttle flies in particular, within a limited and well-studied geographic region (Sweden). Nevertheless, the results show that we are far from completing the inventory for even this limited portion of global biodiversity. Since it was in Sweden that Linnaeus started his work and where he did most of it, the Swedish flora and fauna belong to the best known in the world. In spite of this, we show in paper I of this thesis that it is likely that a considerable portion of the Swedish insect fauna remains to be discovered. The white spots on the biodiversity map primarily concern small Diptera and Hymenoptera species that are decomposers or parasitoids. The scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) are one of the insect families that contain more undescribed species than species known to science, both in Sweden and elsewhere. The situation is complicated by the fact that a large portion of the known scuttle-fly diversity is placed within a single genus, Megaselia, one of the most species-rich genera in the animal kingdom; almost 40 % of described phorids belong to this genus. Our lack of understanding of phylogenetic relationships within Megaselia has made taxonomic progress on the genus very difficult. In paper II, we define a new natural clade within Megaselia, the lucifrons group, based on both molecular and morphological evidence. We show that the group comprises at least three species in Sweden, one of which is described by us as new to science. In paper III, we present the first comprehensive molecular phylogeny of Megaselia. We identify 22 well-supported natural clades within the genus, comprising at least two species each. These clades are recognized as species groups; most of them have not been described previously. We identify eight additional, isolated single-species lineages, which may turn out to represent multi-species clades when molecular data become available for more species. The paper includes the description of 45 species new to science, all from Sweden. In paper IV, we revise the most basal of the 22 species groups, the spinigera group, and describe one additional new species to science from Sweden in this group. The thesis provides the first reasonably complete phylogenetic framework for Megaselia and its closest relatives, greatly facilitating further research into scuttle-fly diversity in Sweden and elsewhere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University , 2016. , 50 p.
National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133436ISBN: 978-91-7649-501-8 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-502-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-133436DiVA: diva2:958416
Public defence
2016-11-04, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Swedish Taxonomy Initiative (ArtDatabanken, SLU), dha 158/09 1.4
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-10-12 Created: 2016-09-07 Last updated: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Size and Composition of the Swedish Insect Fauna
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Size and Composition of the Swedish Insect Fauna
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133435 (URN)
Available from: 2016-09-07 Created: 2016-09-07 Last updated: 2016-09-16Bibliographically approved
2. A new species group in Megaselia, the lucifrons group, with description of a new species (Diptera, Phoridae)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A new species group in Megaselia, the lucifrons group, with description of a new species (Diptera, Phoridae)
2015 (English)In: ZooKeys, ISSN 1313-2989, E-ISSN 1313-2970, no 512, 89-108 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With 1,400 described species, Megaselia is one of the most species-rich genera in the animal kingdom, and at the same time one of the least studied. An important obstacle to taxonomic progress is the lack of knowledge concerning the phylogenetic structure within the genus. Classification of Megaselia at the level of subgenus is incomplete although Schmitz addressed several groups of species in a series of monographs published from 1956 to 1981. Another problem is the lack of molecular phylogenetic analyses to support morphology-based conclusions. As a contribution towards addressing these problems, we here circumscribe a previously unrecognized monophyletic lineage of Megaselia consisting of species similar to M. lucifrons. We base this taxonomic decision on morphological study of an extensive phorid material from Sweden, complemented by molecular analyses of select exemplars using two markers (COI and 28S). We name the clade the lucifrons species group, and show that it contains three distinct species. Our results also demonstrate that Megaselia subnitida Lundbeck, 1920, previously treated as a synonym of M. lucifrons Schmitz, 1918, is a separate species, and we remove it from synonymy. The third species in the group was previously unknown; we describe it here as M. albalucifrons sp. n.

Keyword
Phoridae, new species, Megaselia albalucifrons sp n., Megaselia lucifrons, Megaselia subnitida
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119773 (URN)10.3897/zookeys.512.9494 (DOI)000358257900006 ()
Available from: 2015-08-24 Created: 2015-08-24 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
3. Phylogeny and species-group classification of the mega-diverse genus Megaselia (Diptera, Phoridae)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Phylogeny and species-group classification of the mega-diverse genus Megaselia (Diptera, Phoridae)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The genus Megaselia is one of the largest in the animal kingdom, with 1,600 described species and many more remaining to be discovered according to most experts. The biology is poorly known; some well-studied species have been shown to be parasitoids or extreme omnivores but it is suspected that larvae are mostly decomposers or fungivores. The genus can be found in most regions of the world but it is most diverse in the Holarctic, from temperate to arctic climates, at least judging from the described fauna. Work on Megaselia taxonomy is challenging due to the extreme species diversity, the poor knowledge of the higher-level phylogeny and the lack of molecular data. In this paper, we provide the first comprehensive study of Megaselia relationships based on molecular data. Although basal relationships in the genus remain uncertain, we identify 22 well-supported terminal clades, which we recognize as informal species groups. We briefly discuss the morphological characteristics of each species group, and the implications of our phylogenetic results for the genus-level classification of Megaselia and its closest relatives. We also provide molecular and brief morphological characterization of 45 Megaselia species new to science.

National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133433 (URN)
Funder
The Swedish Taxonomy Initiative (ArtDatabanken, SLU), 158/09Swedish Research Council, 2014-5901
Available from: 2016-09-07 Created: 2016-09-07 Last updated: 2016-09-16Bibliographically approved
4. The spinigera group of Megaselia (Diptera, Phoridae): molecular phylogeny, revision of the known Swedish fauna, and description of a new species
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The spinigera group of Megaselia (Diptera, Phoridae): molecular phylogeny, revision of the known Swedish fauna, and description of a new species
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

With 1,600 described species, the scuttle-fly genus Megaselia is one of the largest genera of all organisms. A recent comprehensive molecular phylogenetic study suggests that most of the Megaselia species fall into a monophyletic group, the “core Megaselia clade”, leaving only two lineages outside: the spinigera group and the ruficornis group. Here, we focus on the spinigera group. We present a molecular analysis of its phylogenetic position within the subfamily Metopininae, and of relationships within it. The analysis is based on broader taxon sampling than in previous studies, covering additional lineages both within and outside the group. Our analysis supports the recognition of an “extended Megaselia clade” — including Myriophora, Pseudacteon, the M. ruficornis group and core Megaselia — and indicates that the spinigera group may be the sister group of this clade. Furthermore, our analysis shows that the spinigera group contains several species previously placed in Plastophora, Phalacrotophora or Kerophora, and we discuss the possibility of recognizing the spinigera group as a separate genus under one of those names. We also revise the known Swedish fauna of the group based primarily on study of material from Malaise traps, and show that the fauna includes a hitherto unknown species, which is described as M. proctoluteipes n. sp. Finally, we present a key to the known Swedish species.

Keyword
New species, phylogeny, Megaselia spinigera group, Phoridae, Metopininae
National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133434 (URN)
Available from: 2016-09-07 Created: 2016-09-07 Last updated: 2016-09-16Bibliographically approved

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