Species Highlights


We will assemble the fly tree of life through a collaborative effort of experts in morphological and molecular systematics for Diptera in a three-tiered approach. Using these data, we will explore three approaches to reconstructing the phylogenies of megadiverse taxa.

Explore the database and view progress on 1st and 2nd tier taxa.

Highlights of First Tier Taxa & links to existing webpages

1st Tier

The 1st tier will represent a backbone tree based on morphological characters and molecular data for 42 fly species representing all major dipteran lineages and incorporating important model organisms such as Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) and Anopheles gambiae (the principle vector of malaria in Africa), as well as four outlier (non-Diptera) species to give the results context in the broader scope of the world of insects. In this tier, we will investigate support for a stable higher-level framework for fly phylogeny from a very large dataset collected for a relatively small taxon sample.

2nd Tier

The 2nd tier analysis includes a more comprehensive sampling of at least one species from each fly family, scoring of more morphological characters, and less molecular data. In this tier, we will also incorporate characters from well-preserved fossil species. The performance of the 1st tier data set will then be compared with that obtained for the 2nd tier, which is built to sample about five times as many taxa, but scoring fewer characters. The 2nd tier matrix will be used as a model for exploring the efficiency of different search strategies and parallel computing in large-scale-phylogenetics.

3rd Tier

The 3rd tier will rely on the results of the first two tiers. In the 3rd tier we will test different techniques for constructing supertrees in an attempt to judge whether supertrees are a viable alternative to more traditional techniques for reconstructing the phylogeny of megadiverse taxa such as the order Diptera.