Our Staff

Torsten Dikow's picture
Research Scientist at Biodiversity Synthesis Center
Year Started: 
2008
Introduction: 

I have left the Field Museum of Natural History in late August 2012 and I am now a Research Entomologist / Curator at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. See my new NMNH staff page.

As a biologist I am fascinated by the diversity of organisms that live on planet earth. My special interest lies in the most diverse group of animals - the insects. I focus on the Diptera - true flies - and here especially on taxa of "orthorrhaphous" Brachycera: Asilidae ("assassin" or "robber flies" with more than 7,500 described species), Mydidae ("mydas flies", 473 known species), and Apioceridae ("flower-loving flies", 138 known species), which form a monophyletic group within Asiloidea.

Deciphering the Diversity and Evolutionary History of Asiloidea Flies.

My research interests are to postualte phylogenetic hypotheses by employing both morphological characters and DNA sequence data and to use these hypotheses of evolutionary relationships to test evolutionary scenarios and biogeography and provide a predictive framework to examine the evolution of morphological traits, behavior, or ecology. I furthermore aim to advance the taxonomy by describing new species and reviewing previously described species and share and disseminate data with new, cybertaxonomic tools.

Phylogeny: I have published two phylogenetic hypotheses of the diverse Asilidae – one based on morphological data of 158 species (plus 17 outgroup species) and another one combining morphological and molecular data for 77 species (plus 11 outgroup species) for which ethanol-preserved specimens were available (see publications below). I am currently working on a morphological phylogeny of Apioceridae and Mydidae based on 165 ingroup species (plus 30 outgroup species), which represent about 20% and 25% of the described species diversity of the rare Apioceridae and Mydidae, respectively. I am also gathering molecular data for this project at this stage.

Taxonomy: To date, I have discovered and scientifically described 62 fly species (47 Asilidae, 2 Ephydridae, and 13 Mydidae) including one fossil Asilidae from Dominican Amber and re-described an additional 73 previously known species in my taxonomic revisions. The taxonomic descriptions/re-description, material examined, and other information for the majority of these species is available as open-access on the Encyclopedia of Life – see, for example, the Leptogastrinae Schildia caliginosa described in 2009. More recently described species that were published in the cybertaxonomy journal ZooKeys are available in both Plazi and the EOL – see, for example, the Syllegomydinae Syllegomydas heothinos described in 2010 (link to Plazi page, link to EOL page).

Theoretical problems in phylogenetic systematics & species concepts as well as biodiversity research are additional fields of interest to me.

Here are links to web-sites presenting my research:

BioSynC research page (specimen occurrence data for several fly taxa)

NSF REVSYS project web-site (information about Apioceridae and Mydidae flies and my current NSF-funded research project)

Leptogastrinae LifeDesk (information on Asilidae: Leptogastrinae flies)

peer-reviewed publications:

Dikow, T. 2012. Review of Namibimydas Hesse, 1972 and Nothomydas Hesse, 1969 (Diptera: Mydidae: Syllegomydinae: Halterorchini) with the description of new species. African Invertebrates 53(1): 79-111. Open-access PDF from African Invertebrtaes.

Dikow, T. 2010. New species and new records of Mydidae from the Afrotropical and Oriental regions (Insecta, Diptera, Asiloidea). ZooKeys 64: 33-75. Open-access PDF from ZooKeys.

Lyons, K.M. and Dikow, T. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Ectyphus Gerstaecker, 1868 and Parectyphus Hesse, 1972 with a key to world Ectyphinae (Insecta: Diptera: Mydidae). ZooKeys 73: 25-59. Open-access PDF from ZooKeys.

Dikow, T. 2010. Order Diptera, family Mydidae. In: Harten, A. van, ed., Arthropod Fauna of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi: Dar Al Ummah, pp. 608-615. PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T. and Bayless, K. 2009. Taxonomic revision of the genus Schildia Aldrich, 1923 (Diptera: Asilidae: Leptogastrinae) with the description of new extant and extinct species. Insect Systematics and Evolution 40(3): 253-289. DOI, PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T. 2009. Phylogeny of Asilidae inferred from morphological characters of imagines (Insecta: Diptera: Brachycera: Asiloidea). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 319: 1-175. Open-access PDF from AMNH.

Dikow, T. 2009. A phylogenetic hypothesis for Asilidae based on a total evidence analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data (Insecta: Diptera: Brachycera: Asiloidea). Organisms, Diversity and Evolution 9(3): 165-188. DOI, PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T., Meier, R., Vaidya, G.G., and Londt, J.G.H. 2009. Biodiversity Research Based on Taxonomic Revisions - A Tale of Unrealized Opportunities. In: Pape, T., Bickel, D.J., and Meier, R., ed., Diptera Diversity: Status, Challenges, and Tools. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 323--345. PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T. 2007. Taxonomic Revision of the Genus Lasiocnemus (Loew, 1851) (Diptera: Asilidae: Leptogastrinae). African Entomology 15(1): 57-74. PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T. 2004. Family-group names in the Asilidae (Diptera). Studia Dipterologica 10(2): 459-471. PDF available upon request.

Meier, R. and Dikow, T. 2004. The significance of specimen databases from taxonomic revisions for estimating and mapping the global species diversity of invertebrates and repatriating reliable and complete specimen data. Conservation Biology 18(2): 478-488. DOI, PDF available upon request.

Dikow, T. 2003. Revision of the genus Euscelidia Westwood, 1850 (Diptera: Asilidae: Leptogastrinae). African Invertebrates 44(2): 1--131. Open-access PDF from Sabinet.

Dikow, T. and Mathis, W.N. 2002. A revision and phylogenetic study of Actocetor Becker (Diptera: Ephydridae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 104(2): 249--290. Open-access PDF from BHL.

Dikow, T. and Londt, J.G.H. 2000. A review of the genera Anasillomos Londt, 1983, Oratostylum Ricardo, 1925, and Remotomyia Londt, 1983, with description of a new genus and two new species (Diptera: Asilidae: Stenopogoninae). Annals of the Natal Museum 41: 107-121. Open-access PDF from Sabinet.

Dikow, T. and Londt, J.G.H. 2000. A review of Lamyra Loew (Diptera: Asilidae: Laphriinae). African Entomology 8(2): 189-200. Open-access PDF from Sabinet.

submitted publications for peer-review:

currently none

selected recent presentations:

Dikow, T. Phylogeny of Apioceridae and Mydidae (Insecta: Diptera) based on morphological characters of adult flies. 31st Willi Hennig Society Meeting, Riverside, California, USA, Jun. 2012. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. Phylogeny and historical biogeography of Apioceridae and Mydidae inferred from morphological characters of imagines (Diptera: Asiloidea). 59th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, Reno, Nevada, USA, Nov. 2011. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. Molecules and morphology: insights from phylogenetic analyses of insect taxa. 30th Annual Meeting of the Willi Hennig Society, São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 2011. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. Phylogenetic relationships within Mydidae based on morphology of imagines (Diptera: Asiloidea). Phylogeny and taxonomy within the “orthorrhaphous” Brachycera Symposium, 7th International Congress of Dipterology, San José, Costa Rica, Aug. 2010. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. An overview of Afrotropical Mydidae – the most diverse mydid fauna worldwide. Advances in Afrotropical Dipterology Symposium, 7th International Congress of Dipterology, San José, Costa Rica, Aug. 2010. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. Phylogeny of Mydidae inferred from morphological characters of imagines (Diptera: Asiloidea). 58th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, San Diego, California, USA, Dec. 2010. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. The Encyclopedia of Life, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and Systematic Dipterology. 7th International Congress of Dipterology, San José, Costa Rica, Aug. 2010. View on slideshare.net here.

Dikow, T. LifeDesk: Managing and sharing biodiversity research on the web. 29th Willi Hennig Society Meeting, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA, May 2010. View on slideshare.net here.