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Endemic fungus gnats

Te Papa researcher: Julia Kasper

Fungus gnats, one of the biggest Diptera groups in New Zealand, have been overlooked and under-researched for a long time, even so our unique glow worm is one of the wider group. The genus Mycetophila, in particular, provides an important ecological service pollinating New Zealand orchids and other native plants.

We don’t know much about their distribution, if they are threatened or if there are invasive exotic species present in New Zealand. The loss of these gnat species could lead to the loss of rare host plants while introduced fungus gnats could harm our ecosystem. Introduced fungus gnats could be hidden in globally-distributed genera with an abundance of undescribed endemic species unnoticed.

To enable even untrained people, working in and near native bush or close to point of entry (POI) facilities, to easily identify the species, I am creating a revised key including species descriptions and using image material.

Close up of a flattened bug with large wings

Caption

Mycetophila ornatissima. Photo by Julia Kasper. Te Papa

Macro image of a gnat's legs and antennae

Caption

Mycetophila fagi. Photo by Julia Kasper. Te Papa

Main collaborators: Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University.

Funding: Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.