Tuesday, December 14, 2010: 1:44 PM
Sheffield (Town and Country Hotel and Convention Center)
Here we outline the results of a four-year study on the systematics of the Australian spider wasps (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae). The Australian pompilid fauna is highly diverse with an estimate of at least 500 species, about 60% of which are still undescribed. Prior to our study, the generic level classification was confusing and no identification keys were available rendering the Australian pompilid fauna inaccessible for biological research. The subfamily Pepsinae comprised the poorest studied Australian genera, many of which had been described on the basis of single specimens and were lacking proper generic diagnoses. Numerous pepsine genera also exhibit a striking level of sexual dimorphism, which complicates sex associations. Here we present a generic level revision of the Australian Pompilidae and recognize 49 genera in four subfamilies. Five previously described genera are newly recorded and six genera are excluded from the Australian fauna. In addition, we describe five genera as new to science. All genera are diagnosed and included in an identification key that covers both sexes. Our generic synopsis includes large amounts of new distributional data and new host records based on museum collections and recent fieldwork. We also record the first parasitoid of the red back spider (Latrodectus hasselti), a species of human medical importance.