Diptera Classification

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Tue Mar 23 10:42:48 CST 2004

We all thank Ken for his efforts.

That is, after all these years and even with the help of the super
star, Willi Hennig, we are delighted to have a NEW, almost perfect
classification of the order Diptera.

Unfortunately for some of us, and that did include Willi, the problems
are with "the details," as Ken so succiently said:

>>I've only been working on this phylogeny for one day, so more
tinkering with the details are inevitable.

For the others, we all have, including Ken, our general users, the Dan
Janzen's of the World, could care less about phylogenetic
classifications of any sort. They want an handy, easy to use, general
index system for biological knowledge. So for most of them, the old
Linnaean system (with slight modifications by Latreille, etc.) is ideal,
with Order, Family, genus and species.

Given them as well as our own priorities for a truly phylogenetic based
system, we have taken a pragmatic course for the near future (that is,
until more of those "details" are resolved) of maintaining as a STARTing
point a conservative Linnaean classification of Order, family, genus and
species with some paraphyletic intermediate groups. This is our approach
at the BioSystematic Database of World Diptera: Provide something useful
for Today and ALL users, while working for a better system for the

Details like "Neodiptera," need to be resolved before we invest for
energy into generating phylogenetic classifications. Now with the
support of a NSF Tree of Life grant to Brian Wiegmann and colleagues,
etc., we do hope to make great progress in getting those "details"

So, Ken and others, watch the Diptera site (www.diptera.org) and
hopefully the details will be resolve, one by one.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org  web site

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