Wing morphometrics as a tool in species identification of forensically important blow flies of ThailandReport as inadecuate

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Parasites and Vectors

, 10:229

First Online: 10 May 2017Received: 09 December 2016Accepted: 01 May 2017DOI: 10.1186-s13071-017-2163-z

Cite this article as: Sontigun, N., Sukontason, K.L., Zajac, B.K. et al. Parasites Vectors 2017 10: 229. doi:10.1186-s13071-017-2163-z


BackgroundCorrect species identification of blow flies is a crucial step for understanding their biology, which can be used not only for designing fly control programs, but also to determine the minimum time since death. Identification techniques are usually based on morphological and molecular characters. However, the use of classical morphology requires experienced entomologists for correct identification; while molecular techniques rely on a sound laboratory expertise and remain ambiguous for certain taxa. Landmark-based geometric morphometric analysis of insect wings has been extensively applied in species identification. However, few wing morphometric analyses of blow fly species have been published.

MethodsWe applied a landmark-based geometric morphometric analysis of wings for species identification of 12 medically and forensically important blow fly species of Thailand. Nineteen landmarks of each right wing of 372 specimens were digitised. Variation in wing size and wing shape was analysed and evaluated for allometric effects. The latter confirmed the influence of size on the shape differences between species and sexes. Wing shape variation among genera and species were analysed using canonical variates analysis followed by a cross-validation test.

ResultsWing size was not suitable for species discrimination, whereas wing shape can be a useful tool to separate taxa on both, genus and species level depending on the analysed taxa. It appeared to be highly reliable, especially for classifying Chrysomya species, but less robust for a species discrimination in the genera Lucilia and Hemipyrellia. Allometry did not affect species separation but had an impact on sexual shape dimorphism.

ConclusionsA landmark-based geometric morphometric analysis of wings is a useful additional method for species discrimination. It is a simple, reliable and inexpensive method, but it can be time-consuming locating the landmarks for a large scale study and requires non-damaged wings for analysis.

KeywordsSpecies identification Forensic entomology Wing morphometry Blow fly Thailand AbbreviationsCV1Canonical variate axis

CV2Canonical variate axis

CVACanonical variate analysis

DFADiscriminant function analysis

PMIminMinimum time since death

SSDSexual size dimorphism

SShDSexual shape dimorphism

UPGMAUnweighted pair-group method with arithmetic averages

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13071-017-2163-z contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Author: Narin Sontigun - Kabkaew L. Sukontason - Barbara K. Zajac - Richard Zehner - Kom Sukontason - Anchalee Wannasan - Jens Am


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