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Biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) as indicators of biostratigraphy, ecological reconstructions and identification of amber deposits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2018

Ryszard Szadziewski*
Affiliation:
Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology, University of Gdańsk, Wita Stwosza 59, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland. Email: ryszard.szadziewski@biol.ug.edu.pl

Abstract

Biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are a large family of flies that commononly appear in Lower Cretaceous to Miocene strata, with over 280 fossil species (4.3 % of the family), belonging to 49 genera (26 extant; 23 extinct). Morphological characters used in the identification of fossil genera and species are identical to those used in studies of extant Ceratopogonidae and, as a result, their potential indicative value is reliable. Two relictual extant genera, Leptoconops and Austroconops, reported from Lower Cretaceous Lebanese amber, are at least 125 million years old. Certain ceratopogonid genera are indicative for the Lower Cretaceous, Upper Cretaceous, Eocene or Miocene. A morphological character indicative for the Upper Cretaceous and Cenozoic is macrotrichia on the wing membrane of adults. Indicator species and genera are reviewed for all amber deposits. Eocene Baltic amber contains the best known fauna of biting midges, with 109 named species. Some genera are indicative of aquatic and semiaquatic habitats (predaceous genera, subfamily Ceratopogoninae), forests with rotting trees (Forcipomyia), sandy sea shore habitats (Leptoconops), a cold boreal climate (Ceratopogon) or warm climates (Nannohelea, Austroconops, Leptoconops, Meunierohelea, Metahelea). Females require a protein-rich meal and are well known for feeding on the blood of vertebrates, but many feed on other things, so this information can help with the interpretation of palaeoenvironments. Washingtonhelea taimyrica Szadziewski, 1996, described from Siberian amber, is transferred to the fossil genus Palaeobrachypogon: P.taimyricus (Szadziewski, 1996), comb. nov. For Serromyia alphea, mistakenly redescribed and illustrated from Eocene Bitterfeld amber (= Baltic amber) by Szadziewski (1993), a new name – Serromyiaerrata Szadziewski, nom. nov. – is proposed.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Society of Edinburgh 2018 

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