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Fall Fund Drive

organization of Strepsiptera


I just had this strepsipteran larva ID'ed by Hans Pohl, who placed it into the family Xenidae. As Chuck Entz gently pointed out, the type genus for Xenidae is Xenos, which is the only genus given in the guide for the family Stylopidae.

I don't know if there is big controversy about the existence of the family/subfamily status of Xenidae/Xeninae, but I looked up a few of Dr. Pohl's publications and he certainly is expert and actively working on Strepsiptera. In 2002 he published the following article re-establishing the family status of Xenidae, based on Stylopidae being paraphyletic.He also regards Elenchidae as a family, which Nearctica does not, and which is interesting to me because I have an adult male specimen I've been meaning to photograph, and it would be in Elenchidae.

Pohl, H. 2002. Zoologica Scripta 31:1 (pp. 123-134).
Phylogeny of the Strepsiptera based on morphological data of the first instar larvae

ABSTRACT
This investigation was the first cladistic analysis using morphological data of first instar larvae of Strepsiptera. The analysis of representatives of nearly all known families of Strepsiptera supports the division of Strepsiptera into Mengenillidia and Stylopidia. Corioxenidae and Elenchidae are placed at the base of Stylopidia. Halictophagidae is the sister group to Xeninae + Myrmecolacidae + Stylopinae. Xeninae is placed as the sister group to Myrmecolacidae + Stylopinae. Stylopidae are paraphyletic. Thus, Xenidae stat. n. is re-established. A sister-group relationship between Myrmecolacidae and Elenchidae is not supported on characters of first instar larvae.

A few thoughts
First of all, I think everyone can agree that Nearctica is not a good source for Strepsiptera taxonomy, and that Hans Pohl is one of the top experts in the field.

The problem is that understanding of Strepsiptera is rapidly evolving, so consistency is very difficult- and our taxonomic structure needs to be consistent.

I found an article online which has a checklist of all North American species: Zootaxa 1056, pp.1-18 (2005). (PDF Format). I was thinking of proposing it as our standard, since it covers everything. It treats the taxon in question as Family Stylopidae, Subfamily Xeninae.

Hans Pohl may be right about Xenidae vs. Xeninae, but we need a standard that can be applied to every case. I have no way of judging the taxonomic merits of one classification over another, but we need to be able to include everything- regardless of who IDed it- in an agreed-upon and consistent taxonomic structure. Perhaps Hans Pohl can direct us to an alternative source, or even give us his own version.

We also need to be clear about which taxonomy is being used for each ID: someone using the older one (as in Nearctica) may mean something quite different than Hans Pohl would in saying something is in the Stylopidae, for instance. I think we're going to need to go through the IDs we already have in order to make sure they're consistent with whatever standard we agree on.

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