The Natural History Museum’s BioSCAN Project has found thirty phorid fly species in a single genus that are new to science. As previously reported in the Buzz, the BioSCAN (Biodiversity Science: City and Nature) was launched a year ago by the LA County Natural History Museum’s entomology department to record the insect biodiversity of Los Angeles. The museum set up approximately 30 traps around the city to collect insects with help of volunteer hosts.
“These discoveries came after just three months of project sampling, which yielded over 10,000 specimens for examination,” wrote report authors Emily Hartop, Brian Brown and R. Henry L. Disney, scientists at NHM in the science journal Zootaxa. “This is our first glimpse into the unknown richness of urban biodiversity in Los Angeles, and points to the tremendous deficiency of taxonomic knowledge about the fauna immediately surrounding the homes and workspaces of researchers. Apparently, we need not travel far to have plentiful opportunities for studying biodiversity.”
On her BioSCAN blog, Emily Hartop, Assistant Collections Manager Entomology, details the discovery process describing how she learned to identify the various species of the genus Megaselia by examining each species’ unique genitalia.
“This species has a prominent, pale protrusion on its genitalia (and speaking of genitalia: I’m going to say 90% of our identification work focuses on these for flies, we are obsessed with fly genitalia…), making it easy to pick out at the species level,” wrote Hartop.
Visit the blog to see Emily’s sketches and amazing fly photos by NHM intern Kelsey Bailey. I proudly point out Megaselia lombardorum so named for the host site of yours truly — a perk of being a host, in addition to being part of something so cool!
Who knew you could learn to love a fly!
Larchmont Buzz: Local BioSCAN Traps