Attività di ricerca:
Keywords: Evolution, phylogenetics, systematics
Since 2001 I have focused much of my attention on Diptera systematics, phylogeny and evolution, with families of the Oestroidea, especially the Tachinidae and Rhinophoridae, as my target taxa. The Tachinidae are an extremely diverse yet understudied family of beneficial flies that parasitize other insects, notably plant-eating insects, while the Rhinophoridae are of great biological interest as the only known flies that are parasitoids of Crustacea. My ongoing studies are aimed at elucidating the phylogenetic relationships of this superfamily using morphological (both on living and fossil taxa) and molecular approaches, with international collaborators. A robust reconstruction of the phylogenetic history of this lineage is the first step to developing a more stable and predictive classification that can be applied on a world scale to these economically important flies. A unified classification of the Tachinidae, in particular, will facilitate the use of this family in biological control programs against invasive insect pests.
Keywords: Parasitoid community structure, stratification, diversity, conservation, habitat fragmentation
The effects on biodiversity of the conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural farming and human settlements are of significant concern in Europe. I have been developing new research lines for studying the effects of climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation on the higher trophic levels represented by predators and parasitoids, using different families of flies (Tachinidae, Rhinophoridae, Calliphoridae, Syrphidae) and wasps (Sphecidae, Ichneumonidae).
Keywords: Insect diversity inventories, catalogues, checklists
I am involved in several collaborative projects like Fauna Europaea (since 2004), the World Catalogue of Tachinidae, the World Catalogue of Rhinophoridae, the Fauna Palaestina, Our Planet Reviewed Project and the Manual of Afrotropical Diptera. I have built a large geo-referenced database of the Tachinidae, Rhinophoridae, Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae of the Mediterranean basin, which includes more than 45,000 locality records for about 900 species. This database provides a solid basis for future studies on distributional changes of these important groups of Diptera due to climate change and habitat disruption.
Keywords: Museology, zoological collections, type material, curatorial activities
Zoological collections are the foundation of systematics and an integral part of both pure and applied biology. Raising awareness of the importance of such collections at every education level is a contemporary challenge to valorize the role of natural history museums. Within this context I am actively participating in several initiatives to digitize museum specimens, giving special emphasis to primary types.
Daria Corcos (Biologia Ambientale e Evoluzionistica, ciclo XXX)
Daria’s PhD project deals with the effect of climate change on insect natural enemies (families: Tachinidae, Sirphidae, Ampulicidae, Sphecidae, Crabronidae and Carabidae). She is currently studying the natural enemy communities along elevation gradients in Northern Italy, to understand how the species composition and number of individuals of the upper trophic level change in response to elevation and environmental heterogeneity. Also, Daria has a keen interest in tachinid fly ecology, their host range and the host-parasitoid interactions. She has collected and reared (and is currently rearing) caterpillars of Lymantria dispar (Lymantriidae) and Hyphantria cunea (Arctiidae) to investigate the frequency of parasitization of these defoliators by tachinid flies
Daria has successfully defended her PhD on March 2018 and recently got a postdoc position at Padova University working with Dr Lorenzo Marini.
Silvia Gisondi (Biologia Ambientale e Evoluzionistica, ciclo XXXIII)
Phylogeny and evolution of Rhinophoridae and Polleniidae (Diptera): towards the evolution of OestroideaRhinophoridae and Polleniidae are two families of Calyptrate flies including all parasitoid species: while rhinophorids are the only insects able to exploit crustaceans (Isopoda: Onyscidea) as hosts, Polleniidae feed on earthworms. Rhinophorids lack of adult autopomorphies supporting monophyly, but their larval stage is amazingly interesting and hightly derived. Polleniids has always been considered a subfamily within the Calliphoridae, a widely known polyphiletic/paraphyletic group but lately they have been recognized at a full family status. The phylogeny of both these families is tricky since they have never been investigated in a proper way: this is the main goal of Silvia's project. During next three years she aims at obtaining suitable molecular data to join with morphological one in order to get a robust phylogeny of these two groups of flies. This PhD project is co-funded by the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
Arn Rytter Jensen (Biologia Ambientale e Evoluzionistica, ciclo XXXIII)
Phylogeny and evolution of Bengaliidae and Rhiniidae (Diptera): termite-driven diversificationBengaliidae and Rhiniidae are two families of calyptrate flies with a very interesting and unique biology. They are not associated with dung or carrion like typical blowflies, but instead some are predators of other insects or steal food from ants and termites. Many of them seem to have an association with termites, but the exact relationship is still unknown. The phylogeny of both families have never been properly assed phylogenetically. By using both morphological and molecular data, this study aims to reconstruct the phylogeny of both families, and use this phylogeny to explore the evolution of morphological, ecological, and behavioural traits in a phylogenetic context. In particular, the origin of termite-association in calyptrate flies. A genus-level phylogeny of Bengaliidae and Rhiniidae would hopefully also be the last missing piece from the puzzle of the Oestroidea phylogeny, and aid in creating a stable and predictive classification for all of Oestroidea. This PhD project is co-funded by the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
Elenco pubblicazioni rilevanti (2013-2018):
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