Biogeography of Afrotropical Tachinidae (Diptera)

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The Tachinidae are cosmopolitan in distribution and one of the largest families of Diptera, with approximately 1500 genera and 8500 species. All species are parasitoids of other arthropods, mostly insects, and play an important ecological role in the dynamics of host populations.

The Tachinidae of the Afrotropical Region were last enumerated in a catalogue by Crosskey (1980). That work recorded 208 genera and 974 species. Our study of the Afrotropical tachinid fauna, based on literature and examination of collections, documents a named fauna of 237 genera and 1126 species. The true diversity is estimated to be significantly higher but the region may well be among the least speciose of the world’s 6 biogeographic regions.

In terms of endemicity, 43% of the genera (101) are recorded only from the Afrotropical Region. The percentage is higher at the species level with 93% of the species (1043) recorded as endemic. No Gondwanan elements have been recognized among Afrotropical tachinids and the fauna shares a much greater number of genera and species with the Palaearctic and Oriental regions than with other regions. This biogeographic pattern is congruent with recent studies that suggest the diversification of the Tachinidae was a relatively recent and explosive event, perhaps beginning in the mid-Tertiary.

Afrotropical host records are known for fewer than half of the tachinid genera. No notable host shifts are known from the region with the exception of Rondaniooestrus apivorus Villeneuve, the only tachinid with a bee host (Apoidea; Apis mellifera L.).


Presented at the XXV International Congress of Entomology, September 25-30, 2016 in Orlando, FL>