The Diptera Site

The BioSystematic Database of World Diptera

horizontal bar

The Diptera Site





Status & Workplan
Biotic Regions
Format & Abbr.
Data Model
Quality Assurance
Data Sources

How to Cite & Copyrights



vertical bar


Even since the establishment of the Convention on Biological Diversity (1994), there has been much said and written about the critical need to summarize what is known of our biota so that existing knowledge can be integrated and a framework provided for new information. Unfortunately beyond a few charismatic taxa, like birds, little has been done.

Flies, midges, gnats, bots and other two-winged insects represent a major clade of life (order Diptera) and perhaps 10% of the described diversity of the World (Thompson 2000). And while some dipterans are as beautiful and colorful as birds, many others are of more critical importance to man as vectors of diseases, pests of food and fiber, model systems for research (Drosophila), precise bio-indicators for conservation, pollinators of flowers and biological control agents against weeds and pests.

The BioSystematic Database of World Diptera (BDWD) provides a comprehensive portal to knowledge about these dipterans as well as a framework to organize and integrate current and future data, information and knowledge. The linnaean system of names provides unique information keys within a hierarchical framework which can map our knowledge of life from a historical (phylogenetic) perspective. Unfortunately after some 250 years of research, there are now too many names, including identical names for different organisms and many different names for the same organism. More than 150,000 species of Diptera have been described under more than 300,000 names. The BDWD provides a nomenclator to find the single correct name for each dipteran. A species database and WWW portal is being built to allow information retrieval by other attributes and linkage to WWW taxon-information pages. While BDWD is primary an interactive web-based program the database is also archived periodically on the Diptera Data Dissemination Disk, a CD-ROM based scientific journal.

The challenge now is to review all the records within the BDWD and assure its quality through appropriate review by specialists and peers. At present, virtually all names have been entered, but only about 15% of the species have been verified and peer-reviewed. Additional support will allow for the completion of the data entry phrase, complete review and verification of all family- and genus-group names, and a significant increase in the number of species authenticated.

The BDWD is a FileMakerPro application, consisting of 4 primary data files for family-group, genus-group and species-group names as well as bibliographic references, from which the two online databases are derived, the nomenclator and species interface. A full project description is available in Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF Format as well as our data standards and protocols. Documentation on the other aspects of the BDWD is available as standard HTML pages. See the listing to the left.

Content by F. Christian Thompson

Please send questions and comments to Chris Thompson.
Last Updated: May 8, 2008 by Chris Thommpson