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Drosophilidae (Diptera) of Australia's Northern Territory: ecology and biogeography

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The drosophilid fauna is well documented in eastern Australia but is poorly known in other parts of the continent. This paper summarises what is known of this fauna in the Northern Territory (NT), and includes results from banana trapping in the humid and arid zones. The 42 recorded species include species that breed in fruit, fungi and/or flowers, and a larval predator of scale insects. Drosophilids occur in all three major climate zones (humid, semiarid and arid) but predominate in the humid zone. Banana-attracted species in the humid zone (wet-dry tropics) were common in all sampled habitats: urban, rainforest and open woodland. They included predominantly urban and/or rainforest species. Of the species collected in open woodland, some are likely to be breeding there, whereas others may have been intercepted during movement across the area. The semiarid fauna is a depauperate version of that found in the humid region. Only three species have been recorded in the arid region: an endemic arid specialist, and two cosmopolitan species (D. simulans and D. melanogaster) in urban Alice Springs. Overall, the NT drosophilid fauna represents a depauperate version of that found in eastern Australia, probably because of climatic factors and natural barriers to range expansion. There is little evidence of regional endemism, with probably only one (and at most three) species endemic to the NT, and no evidence of independent, natural dispersion from nearby Indonesia.
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Keywords: Drosophila; Scaptodrosophila; banana-trapping; habitat associations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Zoology and Entomology, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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