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Dikow, Torsten

Research Entomologist and Curator of Diptera & Aquatic Insects


Deciphering the diversity and evolutionary history of Asiloidea flies.

Phylogenetic relationships of asiloid flies (Apioceridae - apiocerid flies, Asilidae - assassin flies, robber flies, Mydidae - mydas flies) and Diptera in general using morphological and genomic evidence. Revisionary taxonomy applying cybertaxonomic tools for open-access distribution of primary biodiversity data. Application of specimen occurrence data to biodiversity studies.

Asiloid Flies research web-site - .

Geographic Focus

education and training

  • Ph.D. in Entomology, Cornell University , Department of Entomology, Phylogeny, classification, & biodiversity of robber flies (Diptera: Brachycera: Asiloidea: Asilidae) with special reference to Leptogastrinae 2002 - 2007
  • M.S. in Zoology, Universitaet Rostock, Germany , Institut für Biowissenschaften, Revision and phylogenetic analysis of the genus Euscelidia Westwood, 1850 (Diptera: Asilidae) 1996 - 2002

Public Biography

  • Dr. Torsten Dikow is a research entomologist and curator of flies in the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Torsten grew up in northern Germany near the coast. He was always interested in the natural world, and saw many species of insects in the forests around his hometown. In high school, he started to make collections of beetles and other insects. During a course at the University of Rostock, when he was tasked with making a field collection, he encountered some assassin flies and was intrigued. Earning his undergraduate degree in Biology, he was already on the path to study the group of flies--Asilidae--known for their predatory lifestyles.

    Torsten first got to know the Smithsonian through a Research Training Program, after which he completed a PhD at Cornell University, then came back to the Museum as a postdoctoral fellow. Today, as a staff scientist, Torsten remains fascinated by the biodiversity and classification of the assassin flies and closely related families. The third largest group of flies, Asilidae has more than 7,500 species, of which Torsten has described 52 new ones, and redescribed many others as he sorts out their classification. Broadly, he works with the collection of true flies - Diptera - at the Museum, including assassin flies and their relatives, to understand fly diversity, biology, distribution, and systematics.