Polar Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1489–1500 | Cite as

Spatial distribution of acalyptrate fly (Diptera) assemblages in Northern Canada

  • Pierre Rogy
  • Terry A. Wheeler
  • Anna M. SoleckiEmail author
Original Paper


Flies (Diptera) are the dominant animal in the North yet are underrepresented in ecological studies. Our study aimed to examine the diversity patterns of the poorly documented acalyptrate flies across the Canadian North. Our main objective was to determine large- and small-scale drivers of species richness, abundance and community composition of acalyptrate fly assemblages. We collected flies at 12 Canadian sites in three ecoclimatic zones (Northern Boreal, Sub-Arctic and High Arctic), from two habitats (wet and mesic). We tested the effect of climatic variables and habitat on species richness and abundance using a generalized linear mixed-effects model, and on community composition using permutational multivariate analysis of variance. Species turnover between sites and ecoclimatic zones was examined by testing for multivariate homogeneity of group dispersions and visualised using non-metric multidimensional scaling. We identified 3631 acalyptrate flies, belonging to 333 species. Diversity measures and community composition were associated with seasonal and limiting temperature variables, consistent with the latitudinal diversity gradient seen in other animal groups. However, habitat only explained a small portion of the variation in our data, and only for observed species richness and species composition. Turnover patterns showed slight, statistically non-significant variation across zones. The High Arctic ecoclimatic zone was as spatially heterogenous in composition as the Northern Boreal and Sub-Arctic ecoclimatic zones but hinted at complex interplays between geographical and glacial legacies. Our results contradict the historical view of Arctic arthropod diversity as simple and uniform, and may serve as a baseline for future biodiversity monitoring.


Arctic Acalyptrate flies Diptera Taxonomic diversity Latitudinal diversity gradient Glacial history 



Terry A. Wheeler passed away during the preparation of this manuscript. His passion and mentorship provided us with the passion and tools to pursue an academic career. We would like to dedicate this manuscript to him, acknowledging the substantial impact he had on our lives and on that of many others. This project was part of a considerable effort, with numerous collaborators. We thank Doug Currie, Sarah Loboda, Katie Sim, Laura Timms, Christopher M. Buddle, Christopher Ernst, Maegan Blair, Patrick Schaeffer, Jana Aker, Christine Roussel, Donna Giberson, Ruben Cordero, Brad Hubley, Sabrina Rochefort and Elodie Vajda for their invaluable help in collecting and sorting specimens. We also thank Sabrina Rochefort, Kevin N. Barber and Tadeusz Zatwarnicki for their help in identifying the dipteran families Piophilidae, Anthomyza:Anthomyzidae and Ephydridae, respectively. The Srivastava Lab, and especially Diane Srivastava and Laura Melissa Guzman, provided numerous comments on the analysis and earlier versions of the manuscript. Florent Mazel provided valuable insights on the analysis. We also thank Christopher M. Buddle for his feedback on later versions of this manuscript, and the reviewers for their invaluable comments which also helped us improve it. Permits for arthropod collection in the Arctic were granted by Aurora Research Institute, Environment Yukon Parks Branch, the Yukon Scientists and Explorer’s Act, the Nunavut Wildlife Act and Parks Canada Agency (Research and Collection Permit for Lake Hazen). Arthropods in Churchill, MB, were collected under a permit issued by the Manitoba Conservation Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch from Winnipeg, MB, to the Churchill Northern Studies Center (CNSC) for conducting research in the Manitoba Wildlife Management Area. Financial support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Canada Graduate Scholarship; Strategic Project Grant to C.M. Buddle, T.A. Wheeler, D.C. Currie; Discovery Grant and Northern Research Supplement to T.A. Wheeler); the Polar Continental Shelf Program; The Schad Foundation; the Northern Scientific Training Program; the Entomological Society of Canada Postgraduate Award, McGill University (E. Melville Duporte Award, GREAT Travel Awards); Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (Masters Research Scholarship); the Canadian Northern Studies Trust and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation (W. Garfield Weston Award for Northern Research).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to report.

Supplementary material

300_2019_2535_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (254 kb)
Supplementary file1 (PDF 254 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Biodiversity Research CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  3. 3.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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