Science News
from research organizations

The tip of an iceburg: Four new fungus gnat species from the Scandinavian north

January 19, 2016
Pensoft Publishers
Although Finland and its climate may not look like a biodiversity hotspot, scientists have recently described as many as four new fungus gnat species there. Three of the species are so far known exclusively from Finnish Lapland, while one of the species has a wider northern range. The names of the new species commemorate a forest researcher, Finnish mythology, Arctic nature and Sami language.

Finnish fungus gnat species Boletina valteri, holotype male, preserved in alcohol.
Credit: Dr. Jukka Salmela; CC-BY 4.0

One may think that the extreme north of Europe is low in insect life, except for the notorious blood-sucking flies. However, while it is a generally accepted truth that both plant and animal species' count is higher the closer one gets to the Equator, some insects display anomalous diversity gradient. Such is the case for European fungus gnats, for example, a highly diverse group of true flies. No less than about 1000 species are known to occur in the Scandinavian Peninsula, representing about 83% of the continent's total. Furthermore, undescribed fly species are continuously being discovered from North Europe.

In a recent paper published in Biodiversity Data Journal, four new species are described. These species have been collected from mires and old-growth forests of Finnish Lapland between 2012 and 2014. One of the species has a wider range, known from Sweden, Norway and Canada.

'I must admit that it was a pleasure to give names to these species' says Dr. Jukka Salmela, conservation biologist at Parks & Wildlife Finland (Metsahallitus). 'These four species are really interesting, because they are rather distant to other known members of the genus Boletina. I am also confident that these species are very rare and may be dependent on old-growth forests or small water bodies such as springs and wetlands.'

The names of the new species all reflect northern nature in one way or another. Boletina valteri is named after Professor Valter Keltikangas, a forest researcher who made very demanding and physically tough field excursions to Finnish Lapland in the 1920's and the '30's.

Boletina kullervoi derives from Kalevala, a Finnish national epic. It tells the story of an orphan, called Kullervo, who eventually kills his foster father and commits suicide. The violent story of Kullervo has also inspired composer Jean Sibelius for his first symphony, "Kullervo."

Boletina hyperborea is self-explanatory, meaning far north. The species occurs in Yukon and in northern Scandinavia. Similarly, Boletina nuortti is named after the River Nuortti. In north Sami language nuorti means east. The gorgeous and wild River Nuortti flows from Finland to Russia.

No less than 100 Fennoscandian (Scandinavian) fungus gnat species await their formal description. 'The boreal and Arctic nature still holds many secrets. Entomologists with simple gear such as sweep nets, Malaise traps and microscopes can still make notable discoveries even in rather well-studied regions such as Finland and Sweden. Samples collected from northern mires and boreal forests are never boring if one studies neglected groups such as small flies,' says Jukka Salmela. "These four newly described taxa just represent a small fraction of the numerous undescribed northern fly species, so they are like a tip of an iceberg."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jukka Salmela, Anna Suuronen, Kari Kaunisto. New and poorly known Holarctic species of Boletina Staeger, 1840 (Diptera, Mycetophilidae). Biodiversity Data Journal, 2016; 4: e7218 DOI: 10.3897/BDJ.4.e7218

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "The tip of an iceburg: Four new fungus gnat species from the Scandinavian north." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2016. <>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2016, January 19). The tip of an iceburg: Four new fungus gnat species from the Scandinavian north. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from
Pensoft Publishers. "The tip of an iceburg: Four new fungus gnat species from the Scandinavian north." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 26, 2017).