|Relationships of extant lower Brachycera (Diptera): a quantitative synthesis of morphological characters|
|Apioceridae, Mydidae, phylogeny|
With over 80 000 described species, Brachycera represent one of the most diverse clades of organisms with a Mesozoic origin. Larvae of the majority of early lineages are detritivores or carnivores. However, Brachycera are ecologically innovative and they now employ a diverse range of feeding strategies. Brachyceran relationships have been the subject of numerous qualitative analyses using morphological characters. These analyses are often based on characters from one or a few character systems and general agreement on relationships has been elusive. In order to understand the evolution of basal brachyceran lineages, 101 discrete morphological characters were scored and compiled into a single data set. Terminals were scored at the family level, and the data set includes characters from larvae, pupae and adults, internal and external morphology, and male and female terminalia. The results show that all infraorders of Brachycera are monophyletic, but there is little evidence for relationships between the infraorders. Stratiomyomorpha, Tabanomorpha, and Xylophagomorpha together form the sister group to Muscomorpha. Xylophagomorpha and Tabanomorpha are sister groups. Within Muscomorpha, the paraphyletic Nemestrinoidea form the two most basal lineages. There is weak evidence for the monophyly of Asiloidea, and Hilarimorphidae appear to be more closely related to Eremoneura than other muscomorphs. Apsilocephalidae, Scenopinidae and Therevidae form a clade of Asiloidea. This phylogenetic evidence is consistent with the contemporaneous differentiation of the main brachyceran lineages in the early Jurassic. The first major radiation of Muscomorpha were asiloids and they may have diversified in response to the radiation of angiosperms in the early Cretaceous.