Titolo della tesi: Phylogeny of Rhinophoridae and Polleniidae (Diptera): towards the evolution of the Oestroidea
The present thesis focuses on the phylogeny and evolution of two families of oestroid flies: Rhinophoridae and Polleniidae. It contains all the papers in which the PhD student collaborated and took part during her 3 years PhD course. Each chapter corresponds to a published paper but one which is still in preparation.
The present PhD thesis resulted in five original research papers with the PhD student as first author and, overall, it provided:
- Descriptions of new rhinophorid species.
- Key to genera and a catalogue of the world Rhinophoridae.
- Key to genera and a catalogue of the world Polleniidae.
- The first ever molecular phylogeny of Rhinophoridae and Polleniidae.
As part of the present PhD project, Rhinophoridae have been catalogued, resulting in 33 genera and 177 species, and a key to the world genera has been provided. A total of four new rhinophorid species have been described and inserted in a phylogenetic context using morphological data. Moreover, rhinophorids have finally found their most likely place within a molecular phylogeny using highly informative genes as a result of the first ever molecular phylogeny targeting woodlouse flies. This molecular phylogeny was then used to infer about some key morphological characters under an ancestral state reconstruction perspective.
On the other hand, Polleniidae have been recircumscribed to eight genera and 147 species, adding many species formerly assigned to Rhinophoridae, and the former subfamily has been raised to full family level. A world catalogue as well as a key to the world genera have been provided. Eventually, cluster flies have been inserted in a molecular phylogeny which represents the first ever molecular phylogeny including more than a few species of the most species-rich genus, Pollenia. Also in this case, key morphological characters were discussed under an ancestral state reconstruction perspective, using the proposed molecular phylogeny.
This given, the present project results in a revised definition of the two target families, thereby providing data for a more detailed characterisation of the whole Oestroidea. A new step was taken towards the comprehension of the evolution of this calyptrate superfamily.