Phylogenetics of Tachinidae (Diptera) with an Emphasis on Sub-family Structure

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Flies of the Tachinidae family (Diptera) are ecologically important due to their parasitism of other insects and their use in biological control. There is a general lack of knowledge about the habits and lifestyles of this very large (10,000+ species) family. Since phylogenetic knowledge can aid in inferring lifestyle habits, a robust phylogeny is needed to make better decisions in the use of tachinids in biological control programs. These decisions will reduce unintended consequences of using tachinids as a biological control agent (such as the loss of native moths) and increase the likelihood of a successful control program. The phylogenetic work that has been done on Tachinidae has only focused on a single subfamily (Stireman, 2002; Tachi and Shima, 2009) or on higher level relationships (Kutty, 2010). Using 6 nuclear and mitochondrial genes from 25 tribes, I created a phylogenetic framework of Tachinidae which focused on superfamily and subfamily structure. I was able to recover Tachinidae as monophyletic as well as well as the subfamilies phassiinae and exoristinae. The other subfamilies (dexiinae and tachininae) were found to be paraphyletic. The Rhinophoridae were recovered as their closest sister group and the Calliphoridae subfamily polleniinae was also closely related to Tachinidae. Further research including more species and more genes is needed in order to accurately infer the relationships among the 10,000 species in the Tachinidae family.


Presented at the 2011 ESA Annual Meeting, November 13-16, 2011 in Reno, NV.