We reconstructed phylogenetic relationships within the diverse parasitoid fly family Tachinidae using four nuclear loci (7800 bp) and including an exceptionally large sample of more than 500 taxa from around the world. The position of the earthworm-parasitizing Polleniinae (Calliphoridae s.l.) as sister to Tachinidae is strongly supported. Our analyses recovered each of the four tachinid subfamilies and most recognized tribes, with some important exceptions in the Dexiinae and Tachininae. Most notably, the tachinine tribes Macquartiini and Myiophasiini form a clade sister to all other Tachinidae, and a clade of Palpostomatini is reconstructed as sister to Dexiinae + Phasiinae. Although most nodes are well-supported, relationships within several lineages that appear to have undergone rapid episodes of diversification (basal Dexiinae and Tachininae, Blondeliini) were poorly resolved. Reconstructions of host use evolution are equivocal, but generally support the hypothesis that the ancestral host of tachinids was a beetle and that subsequent host shifts to caterpillars may coincide with accelerated diversification. Evolutionary reconstructions of reproductive strategy using alternative methods were incongruent, however it is most likely that ancestral tachinids possessed unincubated, thick shelled eggs from which incubated eggs evolved repeatedly, potentially expanding available host niches. These results provide a broad foundation for understanding the phylogeny and evolution of this important family of parasitoid insects. We hope it will serve as a framework to be used in concert with morphology and other sources of evidence to revise the higher taxonomic classification of Tachinidae and further explore their evolutionary history and diversification.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_stireman/92/