Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

Cleaning up higher-level Diptera

I would like to change the way the higher level Diptera is ordered. Diptera needs to be organized in a better way so that the units will refer to real phylogenetic units but still be navigable. Some groups are no longer recognized or used by scientists, such as 'Nematocera', 'Othorrhapha', and 'Achiza'. These names refer to assemblages that are paraphyletic, and as such are not objective units; eg all flies should be put in 'Nematocera' as higher flies evolved from a nematoceran lineage. An argument could be made that these groups are 'convenient' for amateurs, but i don't think any more clicking will be necessary to find families under this scheme, and i think that misinformation is not convenient. The following is mostly based off of Tree of Life.
Here is the classification I'd like to put in place:
Diptera
Infraorders:
(all the infraorders currently under 'nematocera')
Stratiomyiomorpha
Xylophagomorpha
Tabanomorpha
Asilomorpha
Muscomorpha
in Muscomorpha: (2 categories here)
No Taxon:
Acalyptratae
Calyptratae
Superfamilies:
Empidoidea
Syrphoidea
Platypezoidea
What do you think? Unless I hear a strong argument and/or lots of opposition to this, I'll make it in a few days.

Brachycera and Cyclorrhapha a
Brachycera and Cyclorrhapha are still monophyletic taxa... by just listing everything at the infraordinal level we are going to lose some phylogenetic information... how about this:

# Infraorder Bibionomorpha
# Infraorder Blephariceromorpha
# Infraorder Culicomorpha
# Infraorder Psychodomorpha
# Infraorder Ptychopteromorpha
# Infraorder Tipulomorpha
# No Taxon Brachycera
* Infraorder Stratiomyiomorpha
* Infraorder Xylophagomorpha
* Infraorder Tabanomorpha
* Infraorder Muscomorpha
- Superfamily Nemestrinoidea
- Superfamily Asiloidea
- Superfamily Empidoidea
- No Taxon Cyclorrhapha
~ Superfamily Platypezoidea
~ Superfamily Syrphoidea
~ No Taxon Acalyptrate
~ No Taxon Calyptrate

This would be both phylogenetically correct and easier to understand than throwing a bunch of infraorders at the masses. Though it would also take quite a few clicks to get to the higher diptera than the current taxonomy. I think it best to leave things as is. You could always add this information to the info tab. Cheers, Joe :)

 
In other words:
  • Infraorder Bibionomorpha
  • Infraorder Blephariceromorpha
  • Infraorder Culicomorpha
  • Infraorder Psychodomorpha
  • Infraorder Ptychopteromorpha
  • Infraorder Tipulomorpha
  • No Taxon Brachycera
    • Infraorder Stratiomyiomorpha
    • Infraorder Xylophagomorpha
    • Infraorder Tabanomorpha
    • Infraorder Muscomorpha
      • Superfamily Nemestrinoidea
      • Superfamily Asiloidea
      • Superfamily Empidoidea
      • No Taxon Cyclorrhapha
        • Superfamily Platypezoidea
        • Superfamily Syrphoidea
        • No Taxon Acalyptratae
        • No Taxon Calyptratae

 
ok
you say that you don't want to throw infraorders at the masses, but then you keep nearly the same number of infraorders. With your system, it would take 4 clicks just to get to Calyptratae, and 5 clicks to get the the superfamily house flies belong to. With my system it would take 2 and 3, respectively. I don't see why Brachycera and Cyclorrhapha have to be maintained. Not every monophyletic clade has to be represented. If every monophyletic taxa were represented, the flies would be something like
-Culicomorpha
-flies more derived than that
-Psychodomorpha
-flies more derived than that
This is somewhat of a caricature, but I hope you see what I'm saying. Just because some node has a name, it doesn't mean that it is incredibly special in some way. My system tries to balance removing the flat out useless and misinformative 'Nematocera' and 'Orthorrhapha' with still being friendly to amateurs who ar enot particularly interested with the subtleties or vagaries of higher level fly systematics. Including Cyclorrhapha and Brachycera leans too far in the directino of rigid scientific fact over ease and usefulness of navigation, I think.
However, somewhat upsettingly, after saying it is best to leave things as is, you implemented part of your plan. You knew that at least I, Chuck Entz, and the other people who posted here were interested in reaching an agreement about this. You put in infraorders and superfamilies in 'Orthorrhapha'. This does not really reduce clicking, and I think it increases confusion as Orthorrhapha still exists. Also, including two types of taxa in the same category is fairly confusing as well and I think that it should be done cautiously. Seperating these infraorders and subfamilies would make sense if Diptera were rearranged as you or I said. Here, it jsut increases misinformation as Orthorrhapha is entirely paraphyletic and has no place in an objective classification, but these groups are lumped under it for some reason. I think that implementing only part of my taxonomy proposal simply increases clicking time and confusion and doesn't help.
Also, I'd like to note that I'm trying to REMOVE nonsense, useless names, in particular Nematocera, Aschiza, and Orthorrhapha. I'm trying to make a strong balance between what is right and what is simplest for 'the masses' as Joe puts its, the majority of Bugguide users who are amateurs.

 
No point in arguing...
Joe is no longer an editor, so his behavior here is moot. Please read the "Condensing Heteroptera" topic for details.

The main thing to discuss is where to go from here. I came up with an idea for representing the higher-level taxa without getting rid of the flat structure of the order, which I set forth as a possible compromise before things got completely out of hand.

I'm not sure if it's enough of an improvement to be worth the trouble, but I would hate for it to get lost in the din without at least being considered.

 
Response
I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to an overhaul of diptera to simplify things, though I'm not sure on the right course of action there... my opposition to your proposed taxonomy was that it deemphasizes the difference between the nemotocera, orthorrhapha and cyclorrhapha... an amateur who sees tipulomorpha right next to stratiomyomorpha is not as likely to appreciate the vast difference in these groups... grouping certain brachycerans into muscomorpha seems more likely to confuse... one of the shortcomings of bugguide is the difficulty in presenting an accurate cladistic representation that is still easily navigable... and that is why I recommend keeping the current taxonomy (flawed though it may be) and relegate the real systematics to the info page.

PS. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the recent discussion on organizing the higher level heteropteran classification.

 
i agree
That is a shortcoming of Bugguide. I started a new thread to try to address this question.

Is this what you mean?
This is the best I could piece together from your description and what Tree of Life has:
 
Current Taxonomy
  • Acalyptratae
    • Superfamily Carnoidea
    • Superfamily Conopoidea
    • Superfamily Diopsoidea
    • Superfamily Ephydroidea
    • Superfamily Lauxanioidea
    • Superfamily Nerioidea
    • Superfamily Opomyzoidea
    • Superfamily Sciomyzoidea
    • Superfamily Sphaeroceroidea
    • Superfamily Tephritoidea
  • Aschiza
    • Family Phoridae - Scuttle Flies
    • Family Platypezidae - Flat-footed Flies
    • Family Syrphidae - Syrphid Flies
    • Family Lonchopteridae - Pointed-winged Flies
    • Family Pipunculidae - Big-headed flies
  • Calyptratae
    • Superfamily Muscoidea
    • Superfamily Oestroidea
    • Superfamily Hippoboscoidea
  • Nematocera
    • Infraorder Bibionomorpha
    • Infraorder Blephariceromorpha
    • Infraorder Culicomorpha
    • Infraorder Psychodomorpha
    • Infraorder Ptychopteromorpha
    • Infraorder Tipulomorpha
  • Orthorrhapha
    • Family Acroceridae - Small-headed Flies
    • Family Apystomyiidae
    • Family Asilidae - Robber Flies
    • Family Athericidae - Watersnipe Flies
    • Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies
    • Family Dolichopodidae - Longlegged Flies
    • Family Empididae - Dance Flies
    • Family Hybotidae - Hybotid Dance Flies
    • Family Mydidae - Mydas Flies
    • Family Rhagionidae - Snipe Flies
    • Family Scenopinidae - Window Flies
    • Family Stratiomyidae - Soldier flies
    • Family Tabanidae - Horse and Deer Flies
    • Family Therevidae - Stiletto Flies
    • Family Xylomyidae
    • Family Xylophagidae
New Taxonomy
  • Infraorder Bibionomorpha
  • Infraorder Blephariceromorpha
  • Infraorder Culicomorpha
  • Infraorder Psychodomorpha
  • Infraorder Ptychopteromorpha
  • Infraorder Tipulomorpha
  • Infraorder Stratiomyiomorpha
    • Family Stratiomyidae - Soldier flies
    • Family Xylomyidae
  • Infraorder Xylophagomorpha
    • Family Xylophagidae
  • Infraorder Tabanomorpha
    • Family Athericidae - Watersnipe Flies
    • Family Rhagionidae - Snipe Flies
    • Family Tabanidae - Horse and Deer Flies
  • Infraorder Asilomorpha
    • Family Apystomyiidae
    • Family Asilidae - Robber Flies
    • Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies
    • Family Mydidae - Mydas Flies
    • Family Scenopinidae - Window Flies
    • Family Therevidae - Stiletto Flies
  • Infraorder Muscomorpha
    • ?
      • Acalyptratae
        • Superfamily Carnoidea
        • Superfamily Conopoidea
        • Superfamily Diopsoidea
        • Superfamily Ephydroidea
        • Superfamily Lauxanioidea
        • Superfamily Nerioidea
        • Superfamily Opomyzoidea
        • Superfamily Sciomyzoidea
        • Superfamily Sphaeroceroidea
        • Superfamily Tephritoidea
      • Calyptratae
        • Superfamily Muscoidea
        • Superfamily Oestroidea
        • Superfamily Hippoboscoidea
    • ?
      • Superfamily Empidoidea
        • Family Dolichopodidae - Longlegged Flies
        • Family Empididae - Dance Flies
        • Family Hybotidae - Hybotid Dance Flies
      • Superfamily Syrphoidea
        • Family Syrphidae - Syrphid Flies
        • Family Pipunculidae - Big-headed flies
      • Superfamily Platypezoidea
        • Family Lonchopteridae - Pointed-winged Flies
        • Family Phoridae - Scuttle Flies
        • Family Platypezidae - Flat-footed Flies
    • Incertae sedis
      • Family Acroceridae - Small-headed Flies
I think most of this can be done without bringing John in on it, if one is careful to do things in the right order. I would be happy to help.

 
yes
That's pretty much what I was suggesting, thanks for spelling it out more clearly and with pretty colors. The only changes I'd make is to put Acroceridae in Asilomorpha. This is for convenience and because I don't think there's conclusive evidence of their placement anywhere, but it's easiest to understand them in Asilomorpha. I would also put Acalyptratae, Calyptratae, Empidoidea, Syrphoidea, and Platypezoidea in the same taxonomy page. This is ugly, but there are a few places in the guide where different taxonomic units are together on the same page, e.g. Pachygastrinae with genera in the Stratiomyidae page. For the ?s you have there, we could say 'Schizophora' and 'Non-Schizophoran Muscomorpha' or somethings similar, but I think that involves unnecessary clicking for browsers. Also, the short descriptions of the old groups in the main fly page could stay there, with a short explanation of how the taxonomy is now ordered.

So that means...
that the first 5 No Taxon entries in the fly tree will be replaced by 11 Infraorder entries (6 of which are currently under Nematocera)? Along with the other changes you mentioned, some shuffling of lower-level groups would be necessary.

Taxonomically, I don't have an opinion one way or another, but from a logistics/convenience viewpoint, two things you may want to consider:

1. Editors currently can't do moves that would break BugGuide's "rules of taxonomic rank", so when you've figured out what goes where, ask John VanDyk for help in doing the actual moving. This would be preferable to deleting current pages and then having to re-create them elsewhere.

2. I think the descriptions of the old groups on the Info page are useful as references. Even if we don't continue to follow that classification, it might be good to keep the descriptions so people will know what the terms mean.

We don't know enough to give a valid comment
on your proposal, except to point out that BugGuide has selected the USDA Diptera site as its reference. See Forums here. That discussion will also point out to you who the folks are who are most involved in diptera here (along with Chen Young). We would suggest making sure to communicate with them about your changes and getting feedback before you change. Other than that, if Joel and Robin and Tony and Chen and the others agree with your proposal, we say go for it! And thanks for all your work making sense of the dipteran images.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.