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Amazonian Chironomidae (Diptera, Chironomidae): A contribution to chironomid research in the Neotropics

Amazonian Chironomidae (Diptera, Chironomidae): A contribution to chironomid research in the Neotropics

Amazoniana 16(3-4): 313-323

FABRICIUS described the first two South American Chironomidae in 1805, without naming where they were found. A few years earlier, in 1803, MEIGEN had established the first two genera of today's Diptera family Chironomidae, Tanypus and Chironomus. One hundred years were to go by before Emilio GOELDI discovered the first Chironomidae in the Amazon region and described two species in all their phases of development. Real chironomid research in Brazil, and in particular in Amazonia, did not start until 50 years later. The most comprehensive collection of Amazonian Chironomidae until now was presented at the beginning of the 60s and 70s by the Institute Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia in cooperation with the Max-Planck-Institute for Limnology, Ploen. This collection is now in the State Zoological Collection in Munich. At present, approximately 650 existing species are known from Central and South America. Only a third of these, 190 species, from tropical South America have been described, the majority using material from the Munich collection. How inadequate our knowledge still is concerning Amazonian Chironomidae is proven by studies of pupal exuviae from the surface drift of a woodland stream in Central Amazonia, which can be assigned to at least 200 chironomid species. We can expect a total far exceeding 1000 chironomid species in Amazonia alone, the occurrence of which appears to be limited to the Neotropics or which belong to endemic South American genera. Information on dispersal patterns for the individual species or their ecological integration in Amazonian waterways is inadequate at present.

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