Massive tropical fly inventory funded by the United States National Science Foundation

A tachinid fly photographed by Wendy Porras at Zurqui

I am excited to announce that NSF has funded Dr. Art Borkent and I to conduct an ambitious project to discover and enumerate all of the flies at a tropical site in Costa Rica. The site, called Zurqui de Moravia, or Zurqui for short, is about one half hour north of San Jose in the cloud forest just outside Braulio Carrillo National Park. We have been collecting there for the past 15 years, and have found one of the most diverse and interesting faunas in Costa Rica. Now we are extending our studies to ALL of the Diptera found there!

This project is a collaboration of more than 40 experts worldwide, as well as Costa Rica’s Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio). Together, we will collect extensively and identify all groups, even the “impossible” ones like ceratopogonids, cecidomyiids, and phorids. We expect to find a number of species that will surprise even us!

This will be the first time that such an intense effort will be made for any mega-diverse group of insects in the tropics. We were inspired by Terry Erwin’s fogging samples in Peru (and elsewhere), but wanted to go a different route in understanding tropical biodiversity. The “All Taxon Biodiversity Inventory” (ATBI) model appealed to us, but we knew we had to restrict our collecting to prevent the project from getting out of hand. We therefore decided to collect in just two small ravines in an area 100 m x 200 m in size.

We are calling the project the “Zurqui All Diptera Biodiversity Inventory”, or ZADBI. Collecting will start in September; meanwhile we are getting organized for the massive job of collecting, preparing, and identifying the tens (or hundreds) of thousands of specimens we will collect. Of course, we will be broadcasting our discoveries and experiences both here on flyobsession and on the project’s website (TBD). Get ready for some more cool flies!