Brian V. Brown, LACM (photo by Inna Strazhnik)
An extremely rarely collected phorid fly genus, whose brachypterous (short-winged) females live in the nests and amongst the brood of Pheidole ants, was collected by a ZADBI Malaise trap. This genus, previously known only from Brazil, was first found in Central America last year by biologist Wendy Porras. It is widespread in Costa Rica, Brazil, and presumably in places between. Usually females are located by breaking open Pheidole nests in rotten wood or in carton nests constructed under leaves. Unfortunately, we don’t know what they are doing there, although we guess they lay eggs and the larvae feed on or among the ant larvae. The specimen in the Malaise trap was the first male we have ever seen.
Dr. Brown, Principle Investigator at ZADBI, is featured in Science News as the “fly guy”.
A self-described novophile, Brown says he and fellow fly lovers “are junkies for the new and different.” So far, he has discovered about 500 new species… Now, he and other fly experts from around the world may boost the known number. A recent grant will support the researchers’ effort to catalog every single fly species in a 100-by-200-meter patch of forest in Costa Rica, where thousands of new species may await.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County releases latest updates on ZADBI’s first steps.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) team returned from their second trip this summer, and have now established collecting and preparation protocols. They estimate they will discover at least 3,000 species, many of them new to science.
“As the first effort to comprehensively survey all species of a large, mega-diverse group of invertebrates of a tropical forest location, this is potentially a landmark research project in tropical biology” said Brown. American Museum of Natural History Curator, Dr. David Grimaldi, agreed. “This will make a very important contribution to understanding the species diversity of a highly diverse, but restricted tropical fauna. One really wonders how many species such an area holds, particularly new and endemic ones.”
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The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County profiles the new ZADBI grant.
This week the National Science Foundation awarded a three-year $900,000 grant to co-investigators Drs. Brian Brown (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) and Art Borkent (Royal British Columbia Museum, Canada) to determine how many different species of flies live in a cloud forest in Costa Rica. Leading a team of 42 world experts, they will inventory all the species living in a 100 by 200 meter area (about 5 acres) and are estimating they will discover at least 3,000 species, many of them new to science. The survey begins in September 2012, and will take about three years to complete… click here to read more