Position of Pompilidae in Vespoidea Phylogeny


Although Pompilidae is without doubt closely related to the other vespoid taxa, the placement of Pompilidae within the superfamily Vespoidea has been historically controversial. In pre-cladistic days, Pompilidae included genera currently placed in Rhopalosomatidae. After Rhopalosomatidae was elevated to family status, Pompilidae was thought to be most closely related to Rhopalosomatidae due to previously conceived notions regarding generic placements.


Brothers (1975) published the first phylogenetic analysis of the aculeate Hymenoptera, giving special attention to Mutillidae. Brothers' phylogeny (Fig. 1) was derived from 92 morphological characters and placed Pompilidae as sister group to Rhopalosomatidae.


Brothers and Carpenter (1993) reinterpreted Brothers' original data using parsimony algorithms unavailable at the time the phylogeny was first published. They found that Pompilidae was sister to (Mutillidae + Sapygidae) (Fig. 2), although some analyses gave the relationship of Pompildae + (Tiphiidae (Mutillidae + Sapygidae)).


Finally, Brothers (1999) attempted to update data concerning Apoidea. After reanalysis, the original position for Pompilidae as found by Brothers (1975) was derived once again, albeit with reduced resolution (Fig. 3).


Figure 1. Phylogeny of Aculeate Hymenoptera modified from Brothers (1975).

Figure 2. Phylogeny of Aculeate Hymenoptera modified from Brothers and Carpenter (1993).

Figure 3. Phylogeny of Aculeate Hymenoptera modified from Brothers (1999).

Figure 4. Modern classification scheme based on molecular data from Pilgrim, von Dohlen & Pitts (2008). For full phylogeny click here. For a summary of classification changes click here.