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  Classification & Phylogeny
The description of species of Scelionidae began with Linnaeus (1758), and the first genus was described by Latreille (1802). The group was first catalogued on a worldwide basis by Dalla Torre (1898), and most recently by Johnson (1992). The dominant figure in the early 20th century was Jean-Jacques Kieffer (1857-1925), whose posthumously published monograph (1926) brought together descriptions and keys to nearly all taxa known from around the world. Kieffer divided the family into five subfamilies: Telenominae, Baeinae, Teleasinae, Scelioninae, and Platygasterinae (the last now classified as a separate family). Muesebeck & Walkley (1956) began the process of stabilizing the nomenclature by designating and tabulating the type species of all genera. The most significant progress in the systematics of the group was made in the landmark paper by Lubom�r Masner (1976), that included new keys to the world fauna; a critical assessment of the identity and status of described genera with extensive synonymies, based upon an examination of type species; and a phylogenetically-based reclassification of the family into three subfamilies and 19 tribes.

Masner's monograph led directly to a series of advances. Major systematic publications have included regional works for Australia (Galloway & Austin 1984), the Soviet Union (Kozlov & Kononova 1983, 1990; Kononova & Kozlov 2001), and the Holarctic region (Masner 1980); and numerous revisions of the major genera (Dangerfield, Austin & Baker 2001; Huggert 1979; Iqbal & Austin 2000; Johnson 1984; Masner 1983, 1983; Masner & Denis 1996; Muesebeck 1977; Sharkey 1981). In the past 25 years 1196 species and 32 genera have been described as new, respectively 36.2% and 19.3% of the current total.

Phylogenetic analyses of the scelionids have largely been limited to species within genera (Iqbal & Austin 2000; Dangerfield, Austin & Baker 2001; Johnson 1991, Johnson & Masner 1985). Masner (1976) sought to define groups of genera on the basis of synapomorphies, but did not conduct an explicit quantitative analysis. Kozlov & Kononova (1990) presented a fully resolved cladogram of tribal relationships (Fig.) , but the data and methods used for its development are lacking. Their hypothesis has a number of novel elements, e.g., the sister-group relationship between Teleasinae and Psilanteridini, and between Baeinae and Thoronini. Largely, however, this is a superficial effort, relying on a very small number of characters and assuming the monophyly of all of the tribes.

Work by A. D. Austin and associates (e.g., Austin & Field 1997), has resulted in progress in understanding a major character system - the female ovipositor - and in the first step of including a significant proportion of taxa in a phylogenetic analysis. The cladogram of Austin & Field (Fig.) while less resolved because of the limited character set used, proposed some daring hypotheses: the tribe Sparasionini (excluding Archaeoteleia) was suggested to be the sister-group of the family Platygastridae, together forming the sister-group of the remaining Scelionidae; the tribes Baryconini, Sparasionini, Calliscelionini and Psilanteridini, sensu Masner (1976), are suggested to be polyphyletic; and they proposed the existence of a large group of tribes and genera, Scelionini sensu lato, characterized by a highly modified suite of ovipositor characters.

Last updated: 22 February 2004

19 April 2014 | © copyright 2004 | Norman F. Johnson | all rights reserved