A key, based on wing patterns of biting midges (genus Culicoides Latreille - Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in the Iberian Peninsula, for use in epidemiological studies
The identity of vectors of disease are often required speedily in epidemiological studies but with a precision which excludes as many other species as possible. Identification keys usually require the examination of many different parts of the suspected vector to pinpoint the species. This consumes considerable time and resources, so epidemiologists tend to ignore them. A simplified approach to identification is proposed, using the characteristics of a single part of the body (the wings) of
... (the wings) of biting midges of the genus Culicoides. The level of differentiation was epidemiologically valuable. The monoclave could not differentiate all the species from each other but more than one third (20/58) of identifications were for single species, and a further 12/58 identifications gave only two possibilities, making 55.2% of identifications to an accuracy of at most one of two species. The diagnosis of vector species was reached in a maximum of six decision points. The only notable exception to valuable differentiation was the four species in the Culicoides obsoletus group which had almost identical female wing patterns. The ready availability of simple keys, which can be used by anyone without formal training in taxonomy, for all the species of a group in a region should encourage greater standardisation of identifications in all studies, including those not primarily aimed at systematics. These monoclaves can also serve as the primary tools to build computerised image-recognition systems for genera, families and orders of insects.