The Diptera of the Seychelles islands [ Category: Catalogues and checklists · Views: 32767 · Comments: 0 ]
J. Gerlach (ed.)
Most people will know more or less where the Seychelles Islands are, but when asked to point them out on the map they will mostly show some hesitation as to their exact location. The islads are located more than 1,000 km NE of Madagascar, about 1,500 km distant from the African coast. The islands have been isolated from any major land mass since the break-up of Gondwana and consequently have their own distinct island fauna. Their isolation is probably also the cause of the relative little attention the dipterous fauna of these islands have received in the past. The first Diptera were described form the Seychelles in 1895 and the present book presents the information collected and published since with the most recent information being the data collected during the Indian Ocean Biodiversity Assessment 2000-2005.
A chain is a strong as its weakest link. If that would apply to this book as well then it could not be recommended because there are certainly weaknesses in it. The major weaknesses is the lack of proper editing. Had there been proper editing then this would have prevented some clumsy errors, like spelling errors in family names in the classification of Seychelles Diptera (Simulidae rather than Simuliidae; Stratomyidae rather than Stratiomyidae), the use of Geomyzidae with Chryromyidae as synonym (rather than the reverse; an error not repeated in the systematic treatment) and the inclusion of the Anisopodidae in Mycetophilidae sensu lato. Accompanying the systematic list is a number of plates with rather schematic illustrations of all families. Some of these are very informative and can be recognised immediately, others just lack the necessary detail to be able to recognise the family at all. The following key to the family uses some characters which are not frequently used anymore for major subdivisions unless they cannot be avoided (like the presence of the greater ampulla, a character that is not explained anywhere,) or some good diagnostic characters are omitted (the fronto-orbital setae in Drosophilidae; the ocellar triangle in the Chloropidae). Confusing is the usage of numbered veins (i.c. veins 6 and 7) mixed with the customary terminology of veins (the latter being illustrated in Fig. A 4). This also happens in some of the keys in family treatments later on.
The 52 family chapters are of varying quality but this is largely dependent on the availability of specialists willing to review certain groups. When no specialist was available the family treatment mostly is comprised of a list species in the family, any relevant taxonomic information and a summation of records from literature and those resulting from the Biodiversity Assessment. Families receiving specialist treatment often are accompanied by detailed keys, illustrations and species descriptions. These chapters give the book its true value as they provide the a complete overview of the available information to work on the Seychelles fauna.