Taxonomy and biology of dance flies and long-legged flies (Empididae s.lat. + Dolichopodidae)
Flies (Diptera) are one of the most abundant and important groups of
animals. Flies are found everywhere and do just about everything. The health of our world is in part dependent on these wonderful creatures. For an introduction to flies and links to the different family pages, click here.
This is a collaborative site of people studying Diptera.
Assembling a Diptera Tree of Life
Importance of Diptera to man
The FLYTREE project is an international research collaboration funded by the US National Science Foundation, to elaborate and discover the details of the relationships and diversity amongst the flies (insect order, Diptera) with the ultimate goal of providing a newly resolved phylogeny for this major branch of the Tree of Life.
With over 158,000 described species, the insect order Diptera or true flies, is one of the most diverse branches on the Tree of Life. The evolutionary relationships between the main branches of the fly tree are still largely unknown or controversial. Understanding the history of flies is critically important in biology and medicine because flies are model organisms for comparative research in genomics, development, neurobiology, and behavior (e.g., fruit flies, mosquitoes, house flies, medfly).
The Milichiidae (Diptera, Schizophora) are small, mostly black acalyptrate flies. The family contains about 240 described species in 19 genera and is worldwide in distribution.
The behavior of several species of Milichiidae is very specialized. For example, in some species the adults are myrmecophilous (= ant-loving), whilst in some others they are kleptoparasitic, feeding on the prey of spiders or predaceous insects.
(42 Diptera + 4 Outgroup taxa)
Scientific Names link to FLYTREE Sequencing Progress Database, and *taxon page* links to the EDIT Diptera Site taxon pages; additional taxon-specific links to Index to Organism Names (ION), Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and other informative sites.
National Science Foundation: Assembling the Tree of Life (grant program description)
Project:Building the Dipteran Tree of Life: Cooperative Research in Phylogenetics and Bioinformatics of True Flies (Insecta: Diptera). EF-0334948 Award duration: 1 January 2004-31 December 2009.
Project Summary (pdf)
The Carnidae are quite small (1-2 mm) black flies and probably due to their small size, they have not attracted a great degree of study. One notable exception is Carnus hemapterus Nitzsch, which is parasitic on birds, and was therefore the centre of several studies. Most species of the Carnidae are saprophagous and are associated with carrion, faeces, or bird's nests. Worldwide there are five genera with 88 extant and two fossil species.
The Australimyzidae are quite small (1-2 mm) greyish flies. Australimyza Harrison, the sole representative of this family of southern acalyptrate Diptera is endemic to New Zealand and Australia, including their associated subantarctic islands. The genus - and therefore the family - consist of nine species which occur near maritime coasts.
The family was recently revised by Brake & Mathis (2007).
The European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT) is a five-year, EU-funded Network of Excellence, the purpose of which is to encourage better integration of effort in taxonomy across Europe. It has long been felt that support for taxonomy will be much improved if taxonomists can unify their effort and ‘work as one’. That is a demanding aim, but we can at least try to move towards it.
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1. Wing usually broken off, leaving a short stub; if wing complete, crossvein dm-cu absent. Female with abdominal sternites 1-5 absent; membrane with numerous setiferous sclerotized spots.
- Wing complete; posterior crossvein dm-cu present. Female with all abdominal sternites present; membrane usually sparsely bristled.