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Strange little flies in the big city: exotic flower-breeding drosophilidae (Diptera) in urban Los Angeles.

Grimaldi D, Ginsberg PS, Thayer L, McEvey S, Hauser M, Turelli M, Brown B - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Drosophila gentica occurs as far north as San Francisco, where it was found breeding in Cestrum aurantiacum.This is the first New World report of this species; DNA sequences confirm it is a morphologically highly aberrant member of the D. melanogaster species group.This study reveals how intensive field sampling can uncover remarkable biodiversity in even the most urbanized areas.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, 10024-5192, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Urban landscapes are commonly considered too mundane and corrupted to be biotically interesting. Recent insect surveys employing 29 Malaise traps throughout Los Angeles, California, however, have uncovered breeding populations of two unexpected species of one of the most studied and familiar groups of organisms, Drosophila "fruit" flies. Unlike most introduced species of drosophilids, which breed in fresh or decaying fruits, these are specialized flower-breeders. A common species in the survey was Drosophila (Drosophila) gentica Wheeler and Takada, previously collected only once, in El Salvador. It belongs to the flavopilosa species group, all species of which have been known until now from central Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, to Veracruz, Mexico and the Caribbean, breeding in flowers of Cestrum ("jessamine") and Sessea (Solanaceae). The Los Angeles populations are probably breeding in a native and/or introduced Cestrum; in addition, populations in San Luis Obispo County were visiting ornamental Cestrum. Drosophila gentica occurs as far north as San Francisco, where it was found breeding in Cestrum aurantiacum. D. gentica is redescribed and figured in detail for diagnostic and identification purposes. Specimens from Jamaica previously identified as D. gentica are a distinct species but are not formally described in lieu of complete male specimens. Rare in the Malaise traps was Drosophila (Sophophora) flavohirta Malloch, a common species in Australia on the blossoms of native Myrtaceae, found on introduced Eucalyptus in South Africa and both Eucalyptus and Syzygium in Madagascar; adults feed on myrtaceous pollen and nectar, larvae breed in the flowers. It is also redescribed in detail, including its unusual egg. This is the first New World report of this species; DNA sequences confirm it is a morphologically highly aberrant member of the D. melanogaster species group. This study reveals how intensive field sampling can uncover remarkable biodiversity in even the most urbanized areas.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Contexts for sampling flower-breeding Drosophila in Los Angeles and other areas in California.A. Map of the Los Angeles area, showing major highways, each dot indicating the location of Malaise traps used in the BioSCAN project. Yellow dots are where Drosophila gentica specimens were captured; orange dots are where D. flavohirta specimens were captured; there is one site where both species were captured. Inset shows areas outside of Los Angeles where D. gentica was also found. Map: B. Malaise trap in backyard with two of the participants, one of them Eric Keller. Photo by Phyllis Sun. C-E. Cestrum nocturnum x diurnum hybrid (“Orangel Peel”) in flower, May 2014, Los Osos, California. The shrub (C), was attracting hundreds of Drosophila gentica to its small tubular flowers (D, E). Photos by Brian Brown.
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pone.0122575.g001: Contexts for sampling flower-breeding Drosophila in Los Angeles and other areas in California.A. Map of the Los Angeles area, showing major highways, each dot indicating the location of Malaise traps used in the BioSCAN project. Yellow dots are where Drosophila gentica specimens were captured; orange dots are where D. flavohirta specimens were captured; there is one site where both species were captured. Inset shows areas outside of Los Angeles where D. gentica was also found. Map: B. Malaise trap in backyard with two of the participants, one of them Eric Keller. Photo by Phyllis Sun. C-E. Cestrum nocturnum x diurnum hybrid (“Orangel Peel”) in flower, May 2014, Los Osos, California. The shrub (C), was attracting hundreds of Drosophila gentica to its small tubular flowers (D, E). Photos by Brian Brown.

Mentions: Specimens of both Drosophila species were originally collected as part of the BioSCAN project; D. gentica was subsequently found also on host plants. BioSCAN is an innovative project based at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County designed to survey urban biodiversity using a collecting method, Malaise traps, usually deployed in more natural habitats, while also engaging the general public in the sampling program. At each of 29 sites across the City of Los Angeles, California, a Malaise trap and weather station were set up (Fig 1). Almost all sites are backyards of private citizens who volunteered to host traps for the study; additionally, one is a school, one is the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM) “Nature Garden”, and one is a community food garden. Express, written permission for the set up and maintenance of the traps by the landowners is on file at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. No endangered or threatened species were involved. Geographic coordinates are given in the Material Examined section of the species treatments, summarized in the map in Fig 1. Malaise traps are tent-like structures made of a very fine-screened fabric, into which flying insects are intercepted and collected (Fig 1B). The traps can be set up for more than a year and emptied on a regular basis; they often collect insect species rarely captured using hand netting or other traditional methods. The diversity of focal groups of insects in the BioSCAN Malaise traps is being analyzed in their association with various indices of urbanization and land use to assess the effects of the city on the insect fauna. Additionally, besides surveying focal taxa, samples are screened for unusual taxa such as the Drosophila reported herein. Our new Drosophila records from the Malaise traps were collected and identified in the first three months of sampling of the BioSCAN project, during the winter when insect populations and diversity are lowest. Therefore, further unrecorded species are expected in summer samples.


Strange little flies in the big city: exotic flower-breeding drosophilidae (Diptera) in urban Los Angeles.

Grimaldi D, Ginsberg PS, Thayer L, McEvey S, Hauser M, Turelli M, Brown B - PLoS ONE (2015)

Contexts for sampling flower-breeding Drosophila in Los Angeles and other areas in California.A. Map of the Los Angeles area, showing major highways, each dot indicating the location of Malaise traps used in the BioSCAN project. Yellow dots are where Drosophila gentica specimens were captured; orange dots are where D. flavohirta specimens were captured; there is one site where both species were captured. Inset shows areas outside of Los Angeles where D. gentica was also found. Map: B. Malaise trap in backyard with two of the participants, one of them Eric Keller. Photo by Phyllis Sun. C-E. Cestrum nocturnum x diurnum hybrid (“Orangel Peel”) in flower, May 2014, Los Osos, California. The shrub (C), was attracting hundreds of Drosophila gentica to its small tubular flowers (D, E). Photos by Brian Brown.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4414507&req=5

pone.0122575.g001: Contexts for sampling flower-breeding Drosophila in Los Angeles and other areas in California.A. Map of the Los Angeles area, showing major highways, each dot indicating the location of Malaise traps used in the BioSCAN project. Yellow dots are where Drosophila gentica specimens were captured; orange dots are where D. flavohirta specimens were captured; there is one site where both species were captured. Inset shows areas outside of Los Angeles where D. gentica was also found. Map: B. Malaise trap in backyard with two of the participants, one of them Eric Keller. Photo by Phyllis Sun. C-E. Cestrum nocturnum x diurnum hybrid (“Orangel Peel”) in flower, May 2014, Los Osos, California. The shrub (C), was attracting hundreds of Drosophila gentica to its small tubular flowers (D, E). Photos by Brian Brown.
Mentions: Specimens of both Drosophila species were originally collected as part of the BioSCAN project; D. gentica was subsequently found also on host plants. BioSCAN is an innovative project based at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County designed to survey urban biodiversity using a collecting method, Malaise traps, usually deployed in more natural habitats, while also engaging the general public in the sampling program. At each of 29 sites across the City of Los Angeles, California, a Malaise trap and weather station were set up (Fig 1). Almost all sites are backyards of private citizens who volunteered to host traps for the study; additionally, one is a school, one is the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM) “Nature Garden”, and one is a community food garden. Express, written permission for the set up and maintenance of the traps by the landowners is on file at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. No endangered or threatened species were involved. Geographic coordinates are given in the Material Examined section of the species treatments, summarized in the map in Fig 1. Malaise traps are tent-like structures made of a very fine-screened fabric, into which flying insects are intercepted and collected (Fig 1B). The traps can be set up for more than a year and emptied on a regular basis; they often collect insect species rarely captured using hand netting or other traditional methods. The diversity of focal groups of insects in the BioSCAN Malaise traps is being analyzed in their association with various indices of urbanization and land use to assess the effects of the city on the insect fauna. Additionally, besides surveying focal taxa, samples are screened for unusual taxa such as the Drosophila reported herein. Our new Drosophila records from the Malaise traps were collected and identified in the first three months of sampling of the BioSCAN project, during the winter when insect populations and diversity are lowest. Therefore, further unrecorded species are expected in summer samples.

Bottom Line: Drosophila gentica occurs as far north as San Francisco, where it was found breeding in Cestrum aurantiacum.This is the first New World report of this species; DNA sequences confirm it is a morphologically highly aberrant member of the D. melanogaster species group.This study reveals how intensive field sampling can uncover remarkable biodiversity in even the most urbanized areas.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, 10024-5192, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Urban landscapes are commonly considered too mundane and corrupted to be biotically interesting. Recent insect surveys employing 29 Malaise traps throughout Los Angeles, California, however, have uncovered breeding populations of two unexpected species of one of the most studied and familiar groups of organisms, Drosophila "fruit" flies. Unlike most introduced species of drosophilids, which breed in fresh or decaying fruits, these are specialized flower-breeders. A common species in the survey was Drosophila (Drosophila) gentica Wheeler and Takada, previously collected only once, in El Salvador. It belongs to the flavopilosa species group, all species of which have been known until now from central Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, to Veracruz, Mexico and the Caribbean, breeding in flowers of Cestrum ("jessamine") and Sessea (Solanaceae). The Los Angeles populations are probably breeding in a native and/or introduced Cestrum; in addition, populations in San Luis Obispo County were visiting ornamental Cestrum. Drosophila gentica occurs as far north as San Francisco, where it was found breeding in Cestrum aurantiacum. D. gentica is redescribed and figured in detail for diagnostic and identification purposes. Specimens from Jamaica previously identified as D. gentica are a distinct species but are not formally described in lieu of complete male specimens. Rare in the Malaise traps was Drosophila (Sophophora) flavohirta Malloch, a common species in Australia on the blossoms of native Myrtaceae, found on introduced Eucalyptus in South Africa and both Eucalyptus and Syzygium in Madagascar; adults feed on myrtaceous pollen and nectar, larvae breed in the flowers. It is also redescribed in detail, including its unusual egg. This is the first New World report of this species; DNA sequences confirm it is a morphologically highly aberrant member of the D. melanogaster species group. This study reveals how intensive field sampling can uncover remarkable biodiversity in even the most urbanized areas.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus