Frank McAlpine, Ph.D.


Lonchaeidae photo by Tom Murray (image from BugGuide)

Biographic Sketch (Excerpted from: Cumming, J.M., Sinclair, B.J., Brooks, S.E., O’Hara, J.E. and Skevington, J.H. 2011. The history of dipterology at the Canadian National Collection of Insects with special reference to the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. Canadian Entomologist 143: xxx–xxx.).

Frank was born on September 25, 1922 in Maynooth, Ontario. He obtained his B.S.A. from the Ontario Agriculture College in Guelph in 1950 and then joined the Diptera Unit later that same year. In 1954 he obtained his M.Sc. from the University of Illinois in Urbana and in 1962 received a Ph.D. from the same university for research on the evolution and phylogeny of Lonchaeidae. After Frank joined the Diptera Unit, he began working on the classification and evolution of higher Diptera, particularly of families in Acalyptratae. He also published several well-received papers on insect fossils in Canadian amber. Frank authored or coauthored 84 scientific publications, including 18 chapters in the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. As scientific editor of the Manual, Frank essentially became the leader of the project just prior to publication of the first volume. He wrote two of the important introductory chapters, one comprising a family key to adults (McAlpine 1981b) and the other reviewing adult morphology and terminology (McAlpine 1981a). The morphology chapter became the standard adopted by virtually all dipterists worldwide because it provided a uniform homology-based terminology for Diptera that was clearly laid out and consistent with the rest of the insect orders. In total he published 251 new Diptera taxa (7 family group names, 9 genus group names, and 235 species group names). Frank culminated his career with the publication of his phylogenetic synthesis of Cyclorrhapha (as Muscomorpha) in the last volume of the Manual (McAlpine 1989), in which he cladistically analyzed the classification of this huge lineage. He retired in 1985, and except for a few projects that he continued into retirement, did not further pursue research on Diptera. As of November 2011, Frank still lives in Ottawa and is an occasional visitor to the Diptera Unit.

Expertise (major areas of interest highlighted in bold)



This page last updated on 08-Jan-2020
Dr. J.H. Skevington

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
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