& October 1996 - Search for Types & Sorting Diptera
in St. Petersburg, Vienna, Paris & London
September and October of 1996, Steve visited several important
insect collections in Europe to study type materials of Therevidae.
These collections included the Zoological Institute of the
Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, the Naturhistorisches
Museum Wien, in Wien, Austria, the Museum National d'Histoire
Naturelle in Paris, France, and the Natural History Museum
in London, England.
Steve in St. Petersburg
started his trip in St. Petersburg, where he stayed at the hotel
of the Russian Academy of Sciences for three weeks. The Zoological
Institute was a 25 minute subway ride away, with a beautiful
20 minute walk down Nevski Prospekt (a major street in St. Petersburg),
passing the Hermitage, the former Admirality building, the Fortress
of Peter and Paul, and incredible statues and churches. At the Institute,
Steve studied Chamaemyiidae with Dr. Vitali Tanasijtshuk, continuing
collaborations with him after Vitali's visit to Illinois a year
earlier. This represents the world's largest collection of this
family, housing nearly 100 primary types, with the greatest diversity
of species from the Palearctic through Asia, Mongolia, and Russian
Far East. Vitali was kind enough to provide Steve with a synoptic
collection (including paratypes) of chamaemyiids from that housed
in the Zoological Institute. Steve is extremely thankful to Vitali
for this valuable resource. In addition to his work with chamaemyiids,
Steve studied in the collection of Therevidae and Scenopinidae at
the Institute. Information was collected on various aspects of this
collection, including the species housed, type materials and their
condition, numbers of specimens of each species, and an assessment
of genera in the unsorted materials. Vadim Zaitzev was also very
kind in providing our project with a synoptic collection (including
paratypes) of nearly all determined Therevidae in the Zoological
Institute's collection (about 75 species), with very important material
from Asia, Mongolia, and the Russian Far East. Steve is also very
grateful to the dipterists at the Zoological Institute for all their
help, including Olga Ovtchinnikova, Victor Krivokhatsky, Vera Richter,
Kirill Gorodkov, Emilia Nartshuk, and everyone else.
Russia, Steve flew into Wien, Austria, to spend several days in
the collection at the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien. In Wien, Steve
stayed at a small pension walking distance from the collection.
Again, the walk through the city was beautiful, with unbelievable
buildings and statues. (Can you tell this was his first time to
Europe?). Also, he had never had real apple struedel until he visited
a small pastry shop in Wien. Wow! At the collection, Ruth
Contreras-Lichtenberg was very helpful in locating all of the
necessary materials, and for showing him around the museum too.
Steve studied the therevid collections closely, especially studying
the type materials of Schiner, Wiedemann, and Kröber. Several
new combinations and new synonymies became evident through his study
of this very important collection. Several surprises awaited his
discovery here, including the true identity of Thereva notata
Wiedemann, and the location of the last remaining syntype of Thereva
nigra Say!! In studying the therevids, Steve also catalogued
the entire therevid collection, making notes as was done in St.
Petersburg. Of course, Steve had to spend some time in the collection
of Chamaemyiidae, making notes on Czerny type materials, studying
and cataloguing the identified materials, and sorting the unsorted
materials to genus.
Wien, Steve took an overnight train to Paris. This overnight train
is a great way to travel between these cities - it really was fun,
and sleeping in a berth of a moving train is great. In Paris, Steve
stayed in a cheap (as cheap as they get in Paris!) hotel walking
distance from the collection of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle.
At this collection, Loïc Matile was a great help in locating
materials important to my studies. And during our breaks from work,
Steve got to practice listening and speaking French over coffee.
He especially needed to study materials from the Macquart collection,
and in so doing, found several new synonymies and new combinations.
He also studied materials in the all-important Meigen collection,
and the Pandellé, Hervé-Bazin, Dufour, and Gobert
collections. All the therevids from each of these collections was
catalogued with notes. The general collection also had many therevids,
including types of Brauns, Kröber, Schiner, Segúy, Coquillett,
and Becker. In addition to therevid studies, Steve spent some time
working with the Chamaemyiidae, and in sorting through the unsorted
Diptera. Type materials of Segúy, Pandellé, Meigen,
and Loew were present here. Sorting through unsorted flies proved
very worthwhile, as a large cache of specimens of several genera
from Madagascar were uncovered for which Steve only had a handfull
of specimens previously. Incidentally, Steve had never had a real
chocolate eclair before this trip! The pastry shops were so wonderful,
Steve skipped dinner one evening and just walked from one to the
next to the next. The area around the collection is really quite
friendly, and at night there are very interesting open air markets.
Paris, Steve spent the rest of his time in London, staying with
his sister-in-law Ruth and her husband John
just four stops down the tube from Heathrow Airport. The tube ride
to the Natural History Museum was about
25 minutes, and studying materials in this collection was very worthwhile.
Most importantly, with the help of John Chainey, Steve studied Walker
materials, and tried to locate the Bigot type of the type species
of Ozodiceromyia. Unfortunately, Steve did not locate this
important specimen, but through inquiries with Leif Lyneborg in
Copenhagen, the type has been located and is in Steve's possession!
The most important finding at the collection was the true identity
of Thereva germana Walker, and several synonymies became
evident. The type materials of White, Kröber, Macquart, Bigot,
Ricardo, and Lyneborg were present in this collection, which probably
had more type material than any other collection on this trip. The
chamaemyiid collection was also very interesting to study, with
the type materials of Cogan, Malloch, and others being present.
five weeks working in these European collections, Steve returned
to his family in Illinois to process the vast amount of information
accumulated. Hopefully, his notes will help his officemates to decide
which collections that they need to visit to study materials. This
trip was generously supported by the Schlinger Foundation.
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