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Global diversity of black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) in freshwater

Authors:Douglas C. Currie and Peter H. Adler

Abstract:Black flies are a worldwide family of nematocerous Diptera whose immature stages are confined to running waters. They are key organisms in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, but are perhaps best known for the bloodsucking habits of adult females. Attacks by black flies are responsible for reduced tourism, deaths in wild and domestic birds and mammals, and transmission of parasitic diseases to hosts, including humans. About 2,000 nominal species are currently recognized; however, certain geographical regions remain inadequately surveyed. Furthermore, studies of the giant polytene chromosomes of larvae reveal that many morphologically recognized species actually consist of two or more structurally indistinguishable (yet reproductively isolated) sibling species. Calculations derived from the best-known regional fauna—the Nearctic Region—reveal that the actual number of World black fly species exceeds 3,000. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9114-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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