Saproxylic Diptera

  • Michael D. UlyshenEmail author
Part of the Zoological Monographs book series (ZM, volume 1)


Diptera rivals Coleoptera as perhaps the most abundant and diverse order of saproxylic insects, with saproxylic habits known from at least 75 (48%) of the 157 fly families recognized globally. Some fly families are mostly if not entirely saproxylic including Aulacigastridae, Axymyiidae, Canthyloscelidae, Clusiidae, Pachyneuridae, Pantophthalmidae, Periscelididae, Xylomyidae, and Xylophagidae. Saproxylic flies are common inhabitants of virtually all moist to wet microhabitats including sap flows, under bark, in rotting wood, tree hollows, and fungal fruiting bodies. Most species are saprophagous or fungivorous although many predatory species exist as well, including some of the most important natural enemies of bark beetles. Although very poorly studied compared to beetles, it is clear that many saproxylic fly species are declining due to forest loss or degradation, and some taxa (e.g., mycetophilids) are good indicators of forest continuity. The dependence of flies on wet or even saturated substrates suggests they need special consideration when developing conservation strategies. Studies addressing their sensitivity to various management interventions are urgently needed.



I thank Matt Bertone, Ellen Rotheray, and Jessica Mou for providing comments on an early draft of the manuscript and Gary Dodson for sharing information on Phytalmia. I also thank Thomas Bentley, Matthew Bertone, Patrick Coin, Frithjof Kohl, Piotr Naskrecki, and Brandon Woo for providing images used in some of the figures.


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© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection.  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA Forest Service, Southern Research StationAthensUSA

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