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Diptera.info :: Miscellaneous :: General queries
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Neotropical Dipterology
bbrown
#1 Print Post
Posted on 15-09-2009 21:31
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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Are there other members of this group who are interested in Neotropical Dipterology (besides Marc, I know)? I have been involved in some big projects in South and Central America, and it always disturbs me how few people work on this vast, fascinating, and little-known fauna. I wrote a paper about the "crisis" in Neotropical Dipterology a few years ago (available for free at:

http://www.phorid.net/publications/publications_files/CrisisNeotrDipt.pdf

Also, maybe some list members have expeditions they are planning for which they would like companions to share expenses. I don't have anything planned right now, but next year's Diptera Congress is in Costa Rica, where we are planning to do an All Diptera Biodiversity Inventory (see the bottom of my web site www.phorid.net)

Or maybe some people know some great collecting sites. I documented one such site, Cumbre Alto Beni in Bolivia, on my web site:

http://www.phorid.net/melaloncha/cab/cab_index.htm

I'd like to see anything anyone would like to post.

Brian
Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
Andrzej
#2 Print Post
Posted on 15-09-2009 21:37
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I am interested to determine the Heleomyzids but I rather don't plan any trips Frown
But if Heleomyzidae are present in the collected material I am able to work its out Wink
dr. A. J. Woznica, Institute of Environmental Biology, Wroclaw University of Environmental & Life Sciences
 
bbrown
#3 Print Post
Posted on 15-09-2009 21:44
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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That information is useful, Andrzej. We often need help working up survey material.

Thanks!
Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
Gerard Pennards
#4 Print Post
Posted on 15-09-2009 22:24
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Hey Brian, I bet I'm not the only one, but I would be interested in the Syrphidae.
By now I also have the necessary literature to come up with names....
Greetings
Greetings,
Gerard Pennards
 
bbrown
#5 Print Post
Posted on 16-09-2009 00:48
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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Gerard,

Your message brings up a couple of good points. You are right, there is no shortage of syrphid enthusiasts. Yet, what is important from the survey point of view is that identifications are done in a timely manner, names are returned, and specimens are returned in accordance with whatever terms were agreed to. In formal surveys, usually all holotypes and half of the material need to be returned. The rest can be retained by the taxonomist as a necessary basis for future identifications - i.e., for their voucher collection. The problem is that in most surveys there are more specimens than a single researcher can reasonably handle, at least for large families. Identifications get delayed, and much of the material dries up on the expert's desk.

The best solution, in my opinion, is to have teams working on the material. As an example, for our Thailand survey, there are at least three empid specialists working on the material, actively publishing papers on what they find. In comparison, the phorids are bogged down because there is only one person (me) to study them.

It would be great for Neotropical Diptera taxonomy if groups of people interested in the fauna organized themselves into, for example, an asilid team, a tachinid team, a syrphid team, etc., willing to work up their groups.

Another big problem is sorting and preparing the material. In most surveys, the flies are sorted to family in alcohol, and distributed that way to experts. The experts must then mount, label, etc. the specimens, which is a drain on their time and energy. Some surveys propose to mount all the material before it goes to the experts, but these are the minority. Again, a team approach to working on the material would reduce this preparation burden.

Brian
Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
ChrisR
#6 Print Post
Posted on 18-09-2009 08:51
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Hi Brian

I have been on holiday so missed your message until now. I remember reading your paper on the state of neotropical dipterology and agreeing with all your points. Smile

I can't say that I know much (yet) but I have been studying Palearctic tachinids for a few years now and have been also building up a collection of neotropical material (mainly from French Guiana), which I sort into morpho-types using about 70 criteria. It makes for some good winter fun but taking that further and getting identifications or publishing new species always seems a very difficult goal. A few genera jump out and are relatively easy to spot but the lack of good literature and good, named collections nearby hamper the work. Also, I haven't managed to find many workers actually on the ground out in South America.

I think there is no lack of people who would try to work on the neotropics - especially with the potential for discovering new taxa - but this lack of literature and local supporters turns a lot of people off the region. Sad

I have had a bit more luck with smaller families like the Pantophthalmidae & Ropalomeridae but I don't have much material yet Smile

Chris R.

PS: some ideas to help stimulate interest in the region - we need:

1. an online library of papers, freely downloadable
2. a network of friendly experts/contacts who can be asked for help when the going gets tough
3. more material to be collected from across the regions
Edited by ChrisR on 18-09-2009 08:54
Manager of the UK Species Inventory in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum, London.
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
bbrown
#7 Print Post
Posted on 18-09-2009 14:13
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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Chris,

Good points. I think that our newly published Manual of Central American Diptera (MCAD) will help out a lot with identification, including of South American specimens (many of the family keys are of the entire Neotropical Region).

I personally would be thrilled if some people would help out with the phorids, i.e., adopting a genus or two, for which I would provide literature, advice, and access to specimens. I wonder if other "experts" wouldn't also be so willing. It would mean breaking the "stamp collector" mentality (I want every specimen and species for my collection) and adopting a scientific teamwork model (I want to advance the knowledge of my group as much as possible). With sufficient collecting using mass sampling (Malaise traps, light traps, etc.) there should be plenty of specimens for everyone.

More collecting is definitely needed. I have been working on phorids for 26 years, and we still have little coverage for the NT region. Go to

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20m?w=720&r=0.2&e=0.00000&n=0.00000&z=0&kind=Melaloncha&la=0&lo=0?189,190

and see how spotty all the records are for Melaloncha, the genus I most recently revised. Many of those dots also represent single specimens, not good sampling at a site. But the limiting factor, in my opinion, is still expertise- people willing and able to look at material- and technical support - people to separate and prepare specimens. I have a freezer full of samples waiting for money to hire technical staff to sort them of things besides phorids.

You are interested in tachinids, I see. You'll love Monty's chapter in the MCAD volume 2- it is a tour-de-force! We need a strong tachinid team to take on the Neotropical fauna.

Brian


Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
John Smit
#8 Print Post
Posted on 18-09-2009 15:25
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Hi Brian,

I got interested in the Neotropical fauna a few years ago. Initially I was reluctant to collect insects for point already made in this discussion: lack of literature, and not less important lack of experience with this fauna!
So the first trips I mainly watched birds and mamals, far more easy to identify Wink

However, as always, in the end you can't resist. I have made several trips, mainly to Peru. And started actually working on it's fauna. My main interest are the Tephrioidea (Tephritidae, Ulidiidae and Richardiidae), but have also got quite a collection of Syrphidae.
The problem with identifying the material, besides the vast amount of undescribed species, is also the poor understanding of the species or even genera. As an example, one new Ulidiidae, and one new Richardiidid, forced me to start a revision of the Ulidiid genus and the group of genera of Richardiidae. Which takes, as you know, a lot of time.
So I am willing to contribute, one way or the other, and am especially interested in Tephritoid material outside Peru, in order to get a better understanding of the genera.

Best wishes,

John
 
http://science.naturalis.nl/smitj
Gerard Pennards
#9 Print Post
Posted on 18-09-2009 15:35
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Well Brian,
As you see there are certainly people around who are interested in certain groups of Diptera. Getting back to the syrphids, I don't have to tell you there are some people who have worked - or are working on the Neotropical syrphid fauna, for example Christian Thompson and Martin Hauser.
Especially Christian is doing a lot and he has a lot of literature ready or preparing.
I don't know whether you've talked to him already about this?
As for me, I would be interested in working in a Neotropical Syrphid group, but I don't know how many people you could get for that...
Greetings,
Gerard
Greetings,
Gerard Pennards
 
Zeegers
#10 Print Post
Posted on 18-09-2009 15:44
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Location: Soest, NL
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I'm planning to start working on Neotropical Tabanidae next year and I could sure benefit from other members !


Theo
 
bbrown
#11 Print Post
Posted on 19-09-2009 00:33
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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John,

That is what we need, people to take on a genus (like you did), revise it, and "maintain" it. By maintain, I mean the following: most of us revise a genus, work up all the material, describe the n. spp., publish, and then move on, basically allowing the genus to languish again until the next revision. I wish people (including me) would decide to maintain a genus or two in a permanent state of revision, describing any new species, identifying any new specimens, and keeping an up to date key (online, preferably). With 10 people maintaining two genera each, you could go to various sites and do meaningful inventories and comparisons with the 20 genera without getting bogged down with everything else. That is fundable science.

Gerard:

Chris Thompson is coming to visit me at the LACM in November. I'll talk to him about establishing a NT syrphid team.

I should point out that my interest in teams is for Neotropical inventory projects, like our proposed All Diptera Biodiversity Inventory at Zurqui in Costa Rica. We had a lot of trouble getting collaborators for some groups, largely because people are over-extended.

Syrphids are the easy ones. Where we really need good teams (and they might already exist, and I just don't know about them) are the following, among others:

Tipulidae
Cecidomyiidae
Sciaridae
Ceratopogonidae
Chironomidae
Stratiomyidae
Asilidae
Empididae
Phoridae
Tephritidae
Chloropidae
Sarcophagidae
Sphaeroceridae
Tachinidae

Some of these groups have one or more good workers in them, but to my knowledge they are not working as a true team on alpha taxonomy. The dolichopodid people are well-organized, however, lead by Marc Pollet. A couple of people I know are splitting up the psychodids, but more help is needed, in my opinion.

I realize that sciarids, for example, are not as much fun to work on as syrphids, but they really need some people to take them on.

Theo: If you want to start a tabanid team, you should go ahead and do it. Email John Burger and others and decide how to split up the pie. Declare yourselves a team and start asking museums and collectors to loan or exchange material with you. Be willing to sort through lots of repetitious material to find something good.

I hope I don't offend anyone with this post. No disrespect intended.

Brian
Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
Paul Beuk
#12 Print Post
Posted on 23-11-2009 11:22
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I don't mind starting something up for Empidoidea (excluding Dolichopodidae atm). I will have only limited time to do much research myself, but there are already several people (Rafael, Ale-Rocha) working on Neotropical stuff in cooperation with Cumming. Chris Raper recently sent me some material from French Guiana and that got my interest in Neotropical empidoids piqued again.
Paul

- - - -

Paul Beuk on https://diptera.info
 
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ChrisR
#13 Print Post
Posted on 23-11-2009 13:22
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I'm happy to pique anyone's interest Grin

I chatted with Silvio Nihei (Sao Paulo University Zoological Museum) last week,while he was working at the NHM in ondon, and passed him about 30 of my spare, morphotyped tachinids. He has promised to feed back as much information as he can find on the different taxa and hopefully we can establish an ongoing cooperation. Would be good to do the same with other people working on neotropical tachinids. Smile
Manager of the UK Species Inventory in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum, London.
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
bbrown
#14 Print Post
Posted on 04-12-2009 04:37
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Location: Los Angeles, California
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Chris:
it would be great have more people working on tachinids. Monty has a fantastic amount of knowledge of the group, and did an excellent chapter for the second volume of the Manual of Central American Diptera, but he needs help! Are you going to the Diptera Congress in Costa Rica next year? Perusing the collection at INBio would be a great way to learn a lot about neotropical tachinids quickly.

Paul: Jeff has been active with Neotropical empids, but I'm sure there is more than enough work for several people. Marc Pollet has already offered to organize the dolichopodid people.
The material I have seen from French Guiana has been very interesting. I hope your specimens are as good.


Brian

Brian Brown
Entomology
NH Museum of Los Angeles Co.
 
wwww.phorid.net
ChrisR
#15 Print Post
Posted on 04-12-2009 13:55
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bbrown wrote:
it would be great have more people working on tachinids. Monty has a fantastic amount of knowledge of the group, and did an excellent chapter for the second volume of the Manual of Central American Diptera, but he needs help! Are you going to the Diptera Congress in Costa Rica next year? Perusing the collection at INBio would be a great way to learn a lot about neotropical tachinids quickly.

Hi Brian,

I'd absolutely *love* to visit the IDC (Jim O'Hara recently asked me the same question) but I haven't found anyone willing to sponsor my trip - it works out quite expensive so it isn't very 'amateur-friendly' Wink But I recognize that it would be a superb chance to meet all the relevant experts and immerse myself in neotropical dipterology for a week or two. I visited Costa Rica many years ago before I was interested in Diptera so it would be wonderful to go back and see some of the forest and browse through the collections Smile

I had a look through the NHM collection last weekend and was very pleased to spot some familiar taxa, which gave me some names for a few specimens. I hope to go back in February to look through the other 250+ drawers Wink See my blog here.

I also had a quick chat with Chris Thompson and it was fascinating to me to see how different the entomological worlds are on both sides of the Atlantic. Over there amateurs are in a very severe minority (and absent in many families) when compared to the very active networks we have in Europe, and particularly the UK. There are many people in Europe who would like to study neotropical material but we would have a much better chance if simple things like type descriptions were available online and it would be very useful if we could be mentored by some of the seasoned experts over in the US Smile

Of course we are all eagerly awaiting MCAD vol-2 to have a go with Monty's new key. He suggested that it wouldn't be more than 40% applicable to the French Guianan fauna but it's a superb piece of work and I am sure it will give anyone working on neotropical tachinids a huge boost. Smile

Best wishes,
Chris R.
Edited by ChrisR on 04-12-2009 13:59
Manager of the UK Species Inventory in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum, London.
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
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