Finnish Museum of Natural History

Pekka Vilkamaa

Emeritus Curator, PhD

Research topics

More information

  • Helsinki University research database (TUHAT).

My research focuses on systematics and biodiversity of the dipteran family Sciaridae.

Systematics of Black Fungus Gnats (Diptera, Sciaridae)

The aim of the study is to clarify basix taxonomy and phylogeny of the family. The sciairdae are a species-rich but taxonomically difficult, and so one of the least known large dipteran families. About 2 000 species are known in the world, but there are many thousands of still undescribed species. The phylogenetic relationships of the genera and their classification  need also redefining. In Finland, about 350 species are known but the number is constantly rising. My aim is to increase knowledge on this very poorly known insect group. The work includes describing new species and genera as well as doing phylogenetic analyses.

One important goal is to make the descriptions so precise that the species really can be identified with them. High-quality illustrations (drawings) are essential. Quite often old species descriptions are poor and redescriptions of species are as important as descriptions of new species.

The study of details in the structrure of tiny insects requires careful preparation of the specimens and tedious microscopy. I am also trying to use DNA sequences to resolve problems in limiting species concepts and phylogenies, together with morphology. The taxonomists working on Sciaridae form a tight network and studies are made as international co-work.

I also act as a supervisor of the PhD study of Juho Paukkunen: ‘Cuckoo wasps of Finland: fauna, population trends and conservation’.


Research is largely working with a microscope. Photo: Frank Menzel

Person in charge of the page: 
Pekka Vilkamaa