Emma Wahlberg


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Works at Department of Zoology
Visiting address Frescativägen 40, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen Box 50007, 104 05 Stockholm

About me

Main interest in evolutionary biology, systematics, taxonomy and biogeography. Currently working on the taxonomy and systematics of the Scandinavian Empidoidea (Diptera).

The Empidoidea constitute a species-rich superfamily within the flies (Diptera) and are mainly predators on other insects. Some are even important pollinators as they visit flowers for nectar. The superfamily is known from all parts of the world and comprises presently about 11500 described species. The group is characteristic in having a high degree of morphological variation among the various subgroups, much of which can be assigned to the predatorious behavious, involving hunting living insects. The superfamily is traditionally divided into four families: Atelestidae, Hybotidae, Dolichopodidae, and Empididae. Many of the flies in the various families are considered being dance flies, but this does not always follow the modern classification.

The knowledge about these flies in Sweden is relatively poor, particularly considering what species are present in the country, as well as the distribution of individual species. Work on the taxonomy of this group from other parts of the world demonstrates that the species diversity is much higher than previously known, even I so-called well-explored parts of the world. This project aims at increase the knowledge on the superfamily in Sweden. This will be done by applying various characters, like DNA and morphology, to revise the systematics as well as the taxonomy of the group. Important aspects will be to detect as many Swedish species as possible, and link these to distribution data. The results will be presented as taxonomic keys, species lists, species descriptions, as well as phylogenetic hypotheses. The material is gathered through own collecting as well as from the Swedish Malaise Trap Project.

This research is funded by the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative (STI).


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Emma Wahlberg, Kjell Arne Johanson. Systematic Entomology

    Empidoidea represent a large and diverse superfamily of true flies, and to date no stable hypothesis on the phylogeny exists. Previous classifications have been based on morphological data and the relationships among several groups are still unknown. Using the mitochondrial genes cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI) and cytochrome β (Cytβ) and the nuclear genes carbomoylphosphate synthase domain of rudimentary (CAD), elongation factor‐1α (EF‐1α) and isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) in a Bayesian analysis, we tested the support of higher taxonomic groups within this large superfamily of flies. We re‐evaluated previous hypotheses of evolution within the group and present a highly supported phylogenetic hypothesis. Atelestidae, Dolichopodidae, Empididae and Hybotidae were supported as monophyletic families, with Atelestidae as sister group to the remaining Empidoidea. Within the family Hybotidae, Bicellariinae stat.n. formed the sister group to the other subfamilies. The family Ragadidae stat.n. is established to include the subfamily Ragadinae and the new subfamily Iteaphilinae subfam.n.; Ragadidae was sister group to the Empididae. Dolichopodidae was found to form a sister group to Ragadidae plus Empididae. Within Empididae, Hemerodromiinae was found to be a nonmonophyletic group. The tribes Hilarini and Hemerodromiini stat. rev. were recovered as sister groups, as were Empidini and Chelipodini stat. rev. The former family Brachystomatidae was found to be nested within Empididae. A revised classification and diagnoses of nondolichopodid families, subfamilies and tribes are provided.

  • 2017. I. V. Shamshev, Emma Wahlberg, Z. Soltész.

    New data on distribution in the Palaearctic Region for three species of flies of the family Hybotidae are provided. Allanthalia pallida (Zetterstedt, 1838) is recorded for the first time from Yakutia (Eastern Siberia) and Leptodromiella crassiseta (Tuomikoski, 1932) — from the Russian Far East (Amurskaya Province). The following new synonym is proposed: Chvalaea  rugosiventris (Strobl, 1910) = Chvalaea sopianae Papp et Földvári, 2002, syn.n. Chvalaea rugosiventris is recorded for the first time from Eastern Siberia (Krasnoyarskiy Territory) and from the Russian Far East (Primorskiy Territory). The latter species is re-described and illustrated. All distributional data on these species are mapped.

  • 2014. Emma Wahlberg, Kjell Arne Johanson. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79, 433-442

    The phylogeny of Chimarra has previously been examined using morphological characters for a smaller subset of taxa and geographical representativeness. Here molecular data from three genes (COI, CAD and POL-II) are used to reconstruct the phylogeny of the genus. The results show Chimarra to be monophyletic, and that some of the sister groups are paraphyletic. Previous hypotheses regarding the relationships of subgenera within the genus are corroborated but incongruences are also found compared to morphological characters that have been used in keys. The origin of the genus is explored using three different hypotheses of biogeographical region. The biogeography analyses reveal an origin in the Neotropical region and a subsequent rapid radiation, with dispersal into the Oriental, Palaearctic and Australasian regions and secondarily to the Nearctic region. The Afrotropical region has been colonized in several independent events. The molecular dating using a relaxed clock and calibration with four fossil species indicates that Chimarra is about 138 million years old, and that the radiation out of the Neotropical region occurred approximately 124 million years ago.

  • 2014. Emma Wahlberg, Marianne Espeland, Kjell Arne Johanson. Zootaxa 3796 (3), 579-593

    For the first time species of caddisflies in the genus Chimarra Stephens 1829 are reported from Malawi. The following new species are described: Chimarra zombaensis, C. flaviseta, C. chichewa, C. circumverta, C. mulanjae, C. psittacus and C. calidopectoris. The descriptions add to the knowledge of Afrotropical diversity in the order Trichoptera.

  • 2014. Emma Wahlberg (et al.). Zootaxa 3838 (1), 143-150

    Ancistrocerus waldenii waldenii (Viereck 1906) is newly recorded from West Greenland. This is a new northern limit for the species.

  • 2013. Emma Wahlberg, Christer Solbreck. Entomologisk Tidskrift 134 (4), 163-171

    Hymenoptera were collected in suction traps mounted on a TV-tower in an area of mixed coniferous woodland in western Sweden. Over 32 000 individuals were collected in four traps mounted at 2, 9,43 and 93 m above ground during the summer of 1980. Over 95% of the individuals belonged to Parasitica and only 4.2 and 0.2 % to Aculeata and Symphyta respectively. The height distribution of flying Hymenoptera as a whole is intermediate compared with other insect groups such as aphids, with high densities at high altitudes, and Lepidoptera which tend to fly closer to the ground. However, our study showed large differences between major groups of Hymenoptera. All Symphyta were confined to the lowest traps as were most Aculeata signifying a low tendency to high altitude migratory flight. The ants were an exception among the Aculeata with high numbers in the upper traps, indicative of long downwind flights high in the air. A large percentage (over 40%) of the flying population of Parasitica were found above the forest canopy indicating that many Parasitica regularly engage in long-distance flights high in the air.

Show all publications by Emma Wahlberg at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 14, 2020

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