|A phylogenetic hypothesis for Asilidae based on a total evidence analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data (Insecta: Diptera: Brachycera: Asiloidea)|
|Organisms, Diversity & Evolution|
|Apioceridae, Mydidae, phylogeny|
An hypothesis of phylogenetic relationships of Asilidae and its constituent taxa is presented, combining morphological and DNA sequence data in a total evidence framework. It is based on 77 robber-fly species, 11 Asiloidea outgroup species, 211 morphological characters of the adult fly, and approximately 7300 bp of nuclear DNA from five genes (18S and 28S rDNA, AATS, CAD, and EF-1α protein-encoding DNA). The equally weighted, simultaneous parsimony analysis under dynamic homology in POY resulted in a single most parsimonious cladogram with a cost of 27,582 (iterative pass optimization; 27,703 under regular direct optimization). Six of the 12 included subfamily taxa are recovered as monophyletic. Trigonomiminae, previously always considered as monophyletic based on morphology, is shown to be non-monophyletic. Two of the three Trigonomiminae genera, Holcocephala Jaennicke, 1867 and Rhipidocephala Hermann, 1926, group unexpectedly as the sister taxon to all other Asilidae. Laphriinae, previously seen in the latter position, is the sister group of the remaining Asilidae. Five other subfamily taxa, i.e. Brachyrhopalinae, Dasypogoninae, Stenopogoninae, Tillobromatinae, and Willistonininae, are also shown to be non-monophyletic. The phylogenetic relationships among the higher-level taxa are partly at odds with findings of a recently published morphological study based on more extensive taxon sampling. The total evidence hypothesis is considered as the most informative one, but the respective topologies from the total-evidence, morphology-only, and molecular-only analyses are compared and contrasted in order to discuss the signals from morphological versus molecular data, and to analyze whether the molecular data outcompete the fewer morphological characters. A clade Apioceridae + Mydidae is corroborated as the sister taxon to Asilidae.