Higher Diptera classification: a compromise

There are grave difficulties in trying to place the most recent phylogenetic classifications of Brachycera into the Wiki framework, as these classifications are non-Linnaean (they do not have named ranks or proper rank equivalency of sister taxa). The rank of Infraorder is where the problem is most directly noticeable: if, for example, Muscomorpha is defined (as in THE most recent trees) as the entire sister clade to the (Stratiomyomorpha + (Xylophagomorpha + Tabanomorpha)), then one is left attempting to come up with four interstitial "ranks" between the Infraorder and Superfamily levels - and something at this rank must then be declared sister to the superfamily Empidoidea. While this looks okay when drawn as a tree (like on the infamous Tree of Life page), it cannot be wedged into a normal hierarchy in Wikipedia (e.g., the two subgroups of "Eremoneura" - a rankless taxon - are the superfamily Empidoidea and the rankless taxon "Cyclorrhapha" - which is certainly NOT a superfamily).

The alternative is to recognize one paraphyletic Infraorder, the Asilomorpha, consisting of (Nemestrinoidea + (Asiloidea + Empidoidea)) - which is, in fact, a historically widely-used and stable taxon name - in which case the name Muscomorpha can replace "Cyclorrhapha" (since the "Orthorrhapha" is a name long-gone anyway) and the only interstitial ranks needed then are two which are already in widespread use: the Sections Aschiza and Schizophora, and the Subsections of the latter, the Acalyptratae and Calyptratae. It is admittedly a clumsy workaround, if the phylogenetic trees are accurate, but it has the distinct advantage of allowing the Linnaean Wiki hierarchy to remain intact, AND it makes use of names (and their constituent subgroups) in a manner that is consistent with their historical use and definitions, even if we now know that those uses are not entirely appropriate. Moreover, given the incredible rate at which new trees and classifications of Brachycera are appearing (I think there's been something like 5 different trees in the last three years), this portion of the hierarchy is going to be nearly impossible to maintain in an up-to-date manner. Ideally, it would be best to have a stable and widely-accepted classification, which is simply not available at the moment. Moreover, given that the systematists working on Diptera are almost all cladists, it is unlikely that the future classification of Diptera will ever again utilize the Linnaean hierarchy of ranks - they simply assign names to clades, and do not state whether name X is a superfamily, infraorder, suborder, division, etc. - it's simply a name with no rank.

The bottom line is that maintaining Wikipedia's pages for this and other similar groups is going to require adopting a compromise classification if it's going to function at all. Dyanega 16:33, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

If your reliable sources don't use Linnean ranks, or if sources use Linnean ranks but don't particularly agree on which ones, then it is best to wikify just as "(unranked)" (for example see Opisthokonta, Radiata, and Bilateria from the taxobox on Animal). As for how many ranks to show, it isn't usually desirable to list every branch point, especially in a taxobox (if you want a "Classification" section, or even a separate article, then there's more scope for detail). You do want to try to tell the reader which organisms are included though, and yes, this is largely a matter of trying to identify what the authors agree upon (which granted can be a bit hard if they aren't even using the same terminology). For example, if everyone agreed (more or less) on which families are in this order, you could list them, and leave the trees, infraorders, etc, for a section further down the article, something to be omitted for now, or whatever. Not sure I can think of an example of exactly how to do it, but Spermatophyte is somewhat along the lines I suggest. Not sure how much I've helped, but this is what I've found so far (and I guess us plant and insect guys have one thing in common: LOTS of species to try to cover). Kingdon 23:09, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
The problem is that the "(unranked)" code does not work this way. And if the sources use Linnean ranks but don't agree, shifting to another nomenclatorial code is making matters worse. A decision has to be taken in such a case (which is not problematic; it is being done all the time since every synonym is a technically available name and nothing except common sense prevents Wikipedia from using what most consider a junior synonym as the valid name - in the latter case, we have mutually exclusive conflicting opinions andalthough the Wikipedia SOP is not to take a stand, the SOP was not written by people with any knowledge of taxonomy and we have to take a stand since there is no middle ground, and it's being done all the time (Accipitriformes could do with a bit of makeover, but it's a case in point - you'll find that taxon's content at Accipitridae).
In any case, though no ICZN mandate exists the onomatophore concept plus the desire for monophyly makes Asilomorpha rather straightforwardly the Asiloidea + its sister group + their sister group and so on, until it conflicts with some other brachyceran infraorder or higher-ranked group/equivalent clade. According to the data presented in Mikko's Phylogeny Archive, the conflict occurs immediately (Cyclorrhapha as sister group of Asiloidea).
Thus Asilomorpha would be monotypic or it could be scrapped altogether to contrast a variously-ranked basal radiation of brachycerans with the more advanced Cyclorrhapha.
But since the Tabanomorpha are likely to be maintained, an alternative approach would be to get rid of the superfamily, treating the asiloid families like the tabanomorph families.
So has the synonymy of Asiloidea with Asilomorpha been proposed (meaning we can follow that) or not (meaning we can remark on the state of affairs but not synonymize)?
(I tend to list - especially in diverse lineages - as many named branch points/ranks as there are, if this does not mess up the layout. It is helpful for people with some background in biology but no in-depth knowledge of the particular organisms... I could get rid of a lot of the taxonomic subdivisions for Passeriformes genera because I know them, but other people don't, and I find it extremely helpful to have each and every subdivision at hand for beetles for example. Gives me a scope and a clearer idea what I am writing about when expanding such articles, because my main focus is the evolutionary relationships of taxa. And of course there is no rank more important than any other; it would be so even if ranks were not allowed to shift.
If it messes up the layout, or if it is not considered desirable, the extra subdivisions can simply be <!-- outcommented -->, which is more practical than deleting the information away; there might be a time when it is desired to restore the information and then it does not need to be cumbersomely recovered piece by piece.) Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 14:58, 6 July 2008 (UTC)


Is this actually a fly?

The encyclopedia should link the world to the language. Thus: is this a fly, or is it not? Trondtr (talk) 17:54, 23 April 2012 (UTC).

File:Fly June 2009-1.jpg to appear as POTD

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Fly June 2009-1.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on December 3, 2013. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2013-12-03. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page. Thanks! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:53, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Tachina praeceps, one of more than 600 species in the fly genus Tachina, part of the suborder Brachycera. The suborder is best differentiated from other fly suborders by the reduced antenna segmentation.Photo: Alvesgaspar