Systematics and Evolutionary History of non-biting midges of the genus Tanytarsus

Tanytarsus unagiseptimus adult male, is a common species which is distributed in China and Japan Photo Xiaolong Lin


The dipteran family Chironomidae, also called non-biting midges, is the most ubiquitous and usually most abundant insect group in all types of freshwater and even saltwater, with more than 6000 species worldwide.





Due to their high diversity, they are useful in biomonitoring of freshwaters; and since larval head capsules are preserved in lake sediments, they are useful in climate reconstructions. They are also important food items for fish. Since this group of insects dates back to the Triassic period, they have traditionally been used in studies of biogeography, most famously by Lars Brundin in his classical study on transantarctic relationships.

Tanytarsus van der Wulp, 1874 is the most species-rich genus in the tribe Tanytarsini within family Chironomidae with more than 400 described species worldwide.

In this project I will revise Tanytarsus species from the East Palaearctic and the Oriental Region, associate unknown and cryptic life stages, and delineate and describe species using molecular and morphological techniques in this taxonomically difficult genus.

I am currently building and improving a COI library of Tanytarsus in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD).

The evolutionary history of Tanytarsus sensu lato including the genera Caladomyia, Corynocera, Nimbocera, Sublettea and Virgatanytarsus will be inferred basing on morphological and molecular data. In doing so, I will also examine the utility of two mitochondrial (COI) and five nuclear (CAD1, CAD4, PGD, AATS1, TPI) protein coding markers for estimating lower-level phylogenetic relationships within the dipteran family Chironomidae.
Finally, mitochondrial and nuclear markers will be used to analyse species boundaries between genetically and geographically divergent populations of Tanytarsus brundini and its sister species in the chinyensis group.


Candidate Xiaolong Lin

Torbjørn Ekrem 
Researcher Elisabeth Stur

Project Status: Active

  • Estimated date of completion: August 2017
  • Tanytarsus sp. larva collected from the glacial stream, 3963 m above sea level, in Tibet, China Photo: Xiaolong Lin