Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Visiting Scientists Feature – Entomologist Edition

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Visiting Scientists Feature – Entomologist Edition

After the previous mammologist and carcinologist features, we are back with a feature on visiting entomologists!

Our guests this time were a trio of dipterists: Dr. Keith Bayless from the California Academy of Sciences, as well as Dr. Dalton de Souza Amorim and Dr. Vera Cristina Silva from Sao Paulo State University. They were here to work on the fly specimens (Diptera) that were collected from the Biodiversity Discovery Project. During their stay here, they were hosted by Museum Officer and Curator of Insects (Diptera), Dr. Yuchen Ang.

One of Dr. Bayless’s major projects is on resolving the phylogeny of Diptera. During the two-week long visit, he examined over 10,000 specimens collected from the Biodiversity Discovery Project that have been pre-sorted into various groups based on NGS(Next Generation Sequencing)-based DNA barcoding. Out of the 10,000 specimens examined, Dr. Bayless has managed to identify the specimens to over 40 families, a few of which are new records from Singapore. A number of these specimens will then be included in his dataset on resolving the phylogeny of Diptera. Dr. Bayless also gave a public talk on the opportunities and challenges for recovering the phylogenetic relationships of acalyptrate flies and relatives.

Dr. de Souza Amorim was working on fungus gnats from the families Anisopodidae and Mycetophilidae. During the visit, he sorted through over 1,000 specimens of fungus gnats, and discovered more than 100 species that are new to science, along with a new record of the genus Platyprosthiogyne from Asia. Dr. de Souza Amorim also loaned ~300 specimens back to Brazil for further research to describe the species. According to him, there is lesser research on fly diversity in Asia, as compared to North America and Europe. Thus, many findings from research done in Asia are new to science.

Dr. Silva is an entomologist with a research focus on the families Sepsidae and Lauxaniidae. During this visit, she mainly examined fly specimens from the family Lauxaniidae. Lauxaniidae is a challenging family to work with, as their diversity in the Southeast Asian region is still poorly studied. Dr. Silva examined around 120 specimens of lauxaniid flies, and has managed to identify at least three distinct species that are new to science. Dr. Silva also borrowed some specimens back for further research to describe these species.

We look forward to the results of the research done by these entomologists, and hope to see them again soon.