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Biodiversity Notes

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Biology 3484A/B
Nina Zitani

Biodiversity – Oct. 29/12 - Order Diptera – Flies: Di means two and ptera means wing, so these are two-winged insects. A synapomorphy for the Order Diptera is the hind wings modified/reduced into knob-like structures called halteres. All flies have halteres. Halteres are flapped up and down during flight, as wings are. The base of the haltere sits in a nerve-filled socket and sends complex messages to the brain about flight position. It acts like the gyroscopic flight indicator on planes. It helps balance and stabilize the fly during flight. Flies are sometimes called true flies to distinguish them from other insects that have the word fly in their common name (ex. dragonflies, dobsonflies). - What is a fly?: Flies undergo complete metamorphosis. Halteres are a synapomorphy of flies. Adult produces egg, which becomes larva (maggot), which becomes puparium, which becomes adult. The larvae of basal flies are varied. The larvae of advanced flies are maggots, which are featureless feeding machines with chewing mouthparts. They live in their food. They live in and eat rotting organic matter from plants and animals. Most larvae are aquatic. The puparium is like a cocoon, and the pupa is located inside. Adult mouthparts are highly modified for various types of liquid food, for example sponging liquid, lapping blood, sucking blood. There are no chewing mouthparts in adults. There are 150,000 described species of flies worldwide. Many adults are day-active (diurnal). Many adult flies are important pollinators, stopping at flowers to drink nectar and fuel-up for flight. For example, Theobroma cacao is pollinated by a fly. The science of genetics was built on the “lab rat” fly. Because of the few species of biting flies, some which transmit diseases to humans, and the pesky house fly, flies are hated by most people. But flies were instrumental in building the science of genetics and many are important pollinators of flowering plants. They are excellent fliers. Only some primitive flies are blood-sucking. Examples of primitive flies are mosquito (Culicidae), crane fly (Tipulidae), moth fly (Psychodidae), and non-biting midge (Chironomidae). Aquatic larvae are an important food source for other aquatic animals. The more larvae there are in water, the better the water quality (shows there’s no pollution). In derived flies, antennae are reduced. - Family Culicidae – Mosquitos: There are 3000 described species worldwide. This is an extant basal fly group. Adult females have long needle-like serrated mouthparts with a central sucking tube. They required blood for egg development. Eggs are laid in standing freshwater. Larvae are air-breathing. The have organs at the tips of their bodies that breathe in air. This is why they need to be in standing water, because if they were in fast-moving water, they wouldn’t be able to get air. Larvae are an important food source for aquatic animals such as fish, amphibians, and insects. Bats, birds, and amphibians eat adult mosquitos. Mosquito-borne diseases include west nile virus and malaria. The mosquito anti-coagulant saliva causes us to itch. The saliva also transmits Plasmodium. Mosquito eggs are laid in salt marshes, freshwater marshes, bogs, ponds, lakes, and puddles with standing water. Larvae feed on algae, organic debris, microorganisms, and sometimes on other larvae. It is important to look at the ecological function of all life stages. - Family Tipulidae – Crane Flies: There are 4500 described species worldwide and this is the largest family of Diptera. They are often mistaken for mosquitos. They are non-biting, harmless, gentle, and poor fliers. Most larvae are aquatic and semi-aquatic. Some adults are pollinators. - Family Simuliidae – Black Flies: Females require blood. Eggs are laid in running water (ex. streams). Larvae attach to rocks. Black flies are also hated by humans and transmit diseases such as river blindness. They are small, black in colour, have short legs, and have a humpbacked appearance. They insert anti-coagulant saliva into bite wounds. - Family Ceratopogonidae – Biting midges, Punkies, No-see-ums: Females require blood. They are tiny flies with adults being less than 1/8 inch long. Larvae live in moist habitats. These flies transmit bluetongue virus to cattle and sheep. Males and females also feed on nectar and are pollinators of the plant that makes chocolate. Theobroma cacao is pollinated by a ceratopogonoid fly and seeds from the fruits of T. cacao are the source of chocolate. - All of the
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