Caterpillar Killers and Beetle Eaters: Unravelling the Evolution of Tachinid Flies

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 4:10pm
Event Type: 

Isaac Winkler, Cornell College, Department of Biology

Monday, 4.10 p.m. E164 Lagomarcino Hall​

Abstract: Understanding the factors driving the evolution of species diversity is difficult in large, rapid radiations because phylogenetic resolution in these groups is often elusive. Sampling and study design can be very important in the success of phylogenetic studies in such groups. One typical example is the parasitic fly family Tachinidae, with over 10,000 species that feed inside many different insect hosts. After summarizing the interesting biology of tachinid flies, I will present the results of recent studies of tachinid phylogeny and evolution, highlighting lessons learned about gene sampling. We find that genes most often used for insect phylogenetics are unable to solve this difficult problem, but a handful of newly developed markers chosen specifically for appropriate amino acid variation provide a clear picture of tachinid evolution.