Phylogenetic synthesis of morphological and molecular data reveals new insights into the higher-level classification of Tipuloidea (Diptera)

Matthew J. Petersen, Matthew A. Bertone, Brian M. Wiegmann, Gregory W. Courtney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Tipuloidea, the crane flies, are a diverse lineage of true flies (Insecta: Diptera) whose phylogenetic classification and taxonomy remain a challenge. Here we present the results of a quantitative phylogenetic analysis of Tipuloidea based on combined morphological characters (adult, larvae and pupae) and nuclear gene sequence data (28S rDNA and CAD). Forty-five species, from 44 genera and subgenera, were sampled, representing the four putative families of Tipuloidea (Cylindrotomidae, Limoniidae, Pediciidae and Tipulidae sensu stricto). Analyses of individual datasets, although differing in overall topology, support the monophyly of several major lineages within Tipuloidea. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses using individual morphological and molecular datasets resulted in incongruent topologies. Increased resolution and tree support was obtained when both datasets (morphology and genes) were combined, in both combined evidence parsimony and Bayesian analyses, than when analysed separately. The recovered consensus phylogeny was not consistent with any previously proposed Tipuloidea classification, with previous importance assigned to character states shown here to represent losses and reversals seen as a major factor influencing erroneous classification. The results provided here, together with evidence from previous analyses, were used to append the Tipuloidea classification to supported evolutionary lineages. Tipuloidea is presented as two families: Pediciidae and Tipulidae. Pediciidae is recovered as the sister group to all remaining Tipuloidea. Our current phylogenetic hypothesis is not consistent with the existing subfamilial classification of the 'Limoniidae', which is paraphyletic with respect to a well-supported Tipulinae + Cylindrotominae clade, whereas the three 'limoniid' subfamilies are para- or polyphyletic. The recognition of 'Limoniidae' as a valid monophyletic family is discouraged and the subfamilies of 'Limoniidae' are amended and placed within Tipulidae. A revised phylogenetic classification is proposed for the crane flies based on a synthesis of evidence from multiple genes and morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-545
Number of pages20
JournalSystematic Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


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