In August 2006 and January 2008, I had the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London to study their collection of fungus gnats. Both of these two-week visits were funded by the European Commission’s Research Infrastructure Action via the Synthesys projects GB-TAF-2092 and GB-TAF-4226.
I am mainly interested in the unsorted and hitherto unstudied ethanol material from the Oriental and Australasian regions.
There are a relatively large number of such bulk samples of Malaise and light trap material at the NHM, collected mainly during the 1970’s and 1980’s. I spent many hours browsing through these old samples and extracting specimens of fungus gnats from them, of which many are from undescribed groups.
The most extensive samples were from Indonesia (Borneo and North Sulawesi), Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak), Brunei and Northern Thailand. The species composition varied depending on the locality. Epicypta and related genera were particularly well represented in all samples, also Manota and various genera of Leiini were usually common. The tribe Sciophilini was represented mainly by Leptomorphus (subgenus Gymnoscutum) and Monoclona. Other more scarce genera of this tribe were also present, including the especially remarkable Phthinia species which are without macrotrichia on wing membrane.
From the Metanepsini I frequently encountered Metanepsia javana Edwards, as well as Chalastonepsia orinentalis Soli, and other interesting species, sometimes with unusually pectinate or otherwise peculiar antennae. The Exechiini comprised mostly Exechia sensu lato, Allodia, Brevicornu and Cordyla.
Both Ditomyiidae and Bolitophilidae were totally absent, Diadocidiidae and Lygistorrhinidae rare, whilst Keroplatidae were variable in abundances, but I have not devoted much attention to them.
If anyone from our Sciaroidea community out there is interested in any particular genus or species from this material, please contact me and I give you further information or we can prepare a joint paper.
I would like to thank my host Vladimir Blagoderov, and also Erica McAlister and Nigel Wyatt from the Diptera Department for their hospitality, many-sided help and a very friendly approach. I must mention also the coleopterist Max Barclay, who has always been very helpful and provided me with the very interesting material from Northern Thailand.
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