Bishop Museum Scientist Names New Fly After Popeye
New Species Discovered in French Polynesia by Entomologist Neal Evenhuis
Bishop Museum senior entomologist Neal Evenhuis has discovered a new hotspot of species radiation of flies (Diptera) in the remote islands of French Polynesia including new species he has just described in the leading zoological taxonomy journal, Zootaxa. One of them he has named Campsicnemus popeye. Popeye is one of a group of six species that have large swollen areas on their legs, much like the muscular swollen forearm of the cartoon character.
“It is heartening to know that while species are going extinct elsewhere in the world and conservation efforts are being made to save fragile ecosystems, there are so many new species being discovered in the rainforests of these remote tropical islands,” said Evenhuis. “Finding a huge diversity of species is exciting and begs the question of how and why so many occur in such a small area. We have only just begun to study these flies in French Polynesia and I would anticipate with further research and collecting, we will double or even triple those numbers of species in these islands.”
This group of flies occurs worldwide with a total of a little more than 300 species. These flies have been studied for more than 100 years in Hawaii and almost 200 have been discovered there. But in the Hawaiian Islands, the number of species has exploded to nearly 200. In French Polynesia, the genus Campsicnemus now ranks as one of the most speciose groups of animals with 31 described and another two dozen awaiting description in a future paper. Only three groups of beetles are ahead of this group of flies in numbers of species in French Polynesia.
Evenhuis has been studying the long-legged flies of the genus Campsicnemus in both Hawaii and French Polynesia for almost 20 years. He has discovered a huge radiation of species on both remote archipelagos (more than 175 in Hawaii and over 50 in French Polynesia) with no doubt many more species awaiting discovery and description.
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The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I. Today, the Museum is recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. More than 350,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 40,000 schoolchildren. For more information, please call 808.847.3511 or visit www.bishopmuseum.org.