Rob Cannings has just produced a book on the systematics of genus Lasiopogon, a widespread group of robber flies. The book is published by the Royal British Columbia Museum, where Rob is Curator of Entomology.
Rob says this about the book:
"The genus Lasiopogon is a speciose and widespread group of robber flies (Diptera: Asilidae) inhabiting the north temperate parts of the Earth. It is the most northerly ranging genus of asilid flies and the relationships of the species on either side of the Bering Strait offer excellent opportunities for biogeographical research. Initially, my goal was to revise the world fauna and subject it to a phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis. However, a comprehensive revision of the whole genus in the time available was not practicable. Although I examined and identified all the material assembled (I recognize 118 species), and documented 49 new species, only about a quarter of the genus was revised at the species level. The study includes a cladistic overview of the defined species groups and a detailed taxonomic and phylogenetic analysis of the seven species groups and 29 species in the monophyletic and derived opaculus section, which is distributed in North America and East Asia. Fourteen new species are described and the others are redescribed. The male and female genitalia of each species are illustrated and the geographical distribution of the species is mapped.
"The phylogenetic hypothesis of the genus as a whole is treated only by employing putative species groups defined by exemplar species. Thus, the phylogeny of these groups is considered tentative and will not be resolved more explicitly until all known Lasiopogon species are described or redescribed. Despite the incomplete nature of this revision, I am convinced that it is worth publishing in its present form so that it can be used as a published basis for future species group revisions and phylogenetic analyses.
"The identification keys cover all known North American species and those in Asia east of 60šE longitude. Europe contains many undescribed species and the bulk of the fauna there was not studied in enough detail to allow the production of keys. The three keys contain undescribed species as well as described ones; although this emphasizes the incomplete nature of the publication, it permits the accurate identification of all known species, which more conservative keys would not allow.
"The morphology of Lasiopogon is detailed; special attention is paid to the dissected male and female genitalia, which have been little used in previous taxonomic works on the genus. For the first time, the gonostylus, phallus, subepandrial sclerite, basal epandrial sclerite and spermathecae are considered especially important structures. The description and analysis of morphology may be useful to other students of the Asilidae.
"The placement of Lasiopogon in the Stichopogoninae is upheld; it is considered the sister group to the remainder of the subfamily. The possibility that the Stichopogoninae is linked to the Stenopogoninae through the australasian genus Bathypogon is explored.
"Lasiopogon consists of two main clades: the cinctus clade is predominantly West Palaearctic; the bivittatus clade is mainly Nearctic. The opaculus section, the main object of this study, is a monophyletic, derived lineage in the bivittatus clade. The younger clades of the opaculus section live in the East Palaearctic.
"A biogeographic hypothesis of the history of Lasiopogon suggests that Lasiopogon may have originated in Laurasia as early as the late Jurassic, although the phylogeny of the modern fauna correlates best with geographical events beginning in the Tertiary. The cinctus and bivittatus clades perhaps diverged at the onset of Oligocene climatic cooling. In the Miocene, populations of the opaculus section were continuous across Beringia and into Asia. Almost all the extant East Asian species groups originated at that time. One species, L. hinei, recolonized North America in the Pleistocene."
Cannings, Robert. A. 2002. The Systematics of Lasiopogon (Diptera: Asilidae). Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, B.C. 356 pp, 6x9", hardcover, b/w illustrations, photographs, maps. ISBN 0-7726-4636-8. $65 CAN.
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Dr. Robert A. Cannings