The last few years have been a period of surprisingly intense activity in taxonomic and faunal studies on blackflies. Trying to keep abreast of all the many concomitant changes - descriptions of new species, characterizations of cytoforms, suppression of names into synonymy, the recovery of names from synonymy, new geographical records affecting the distributional picture, changing ideas in classification - has 'kept us on our toes'. We may well have missed the occasional item, especially if hidden in publications (eg some Chinese journals) which even with modern facilities are hard to obtain. We shall trust that any shortcomings there may be are few and not too evident! Except for some minor changes to the 'Explanatory information' (necessitated by some name changes to certain geographical entities and by the requirements of the latest International Code of Zoological Nomenclature) we have confined the inventory revision to the nub of the former edition, ie to the section headed 'Inventory of recent and fossil taxa' on pp. 10-83. The notes provided earlier, and the other add-on sections in the 1997 inventory are not repeated, neither have we included species and country indexes (non-essential in the new electronically searchable version). As to recently published identification keys we note that references to these can be found in the published inventory updates (Crosskey, 1999, 2002). See also the addendum at the end of this inventory.
For various reasons the Natural History Museum, London, which issued the original inventory in 1997 (and through us has maintained it to the present time), will not be able to continue the necessary work beyond the end of 2003. Consequently, if the inventory database is to be updated and kept topical, it will be necessary to hand over the 'baton' to a successor organisation whose hands are sufficiently on the pulse of blackfly studies worldwide to keep up the very close literature monitoring that inventory maintenance needs. We hope to have found the best of all possible successors to keep the inventory in being. Contacts between R.W.C. and Peter H. Adler hint that the inventory could perhaps come under the wing of Professor Adler's department at Clemson University in South Carolina - which would be a fitting place, for Clemson is today the centre of gravity for blackfly research in North America.
A move to Clemson would be particularly appropriate inasmuch as publication is expected early in 2004 of The Black Flies (Simuliidae) of North America (Adler et al.), an outstandingly comprehensive work masterminded to publication by Professor Adler. The book is the product of an enormous quantity of research undertaken on the Simuliidae in the USA, Canada and elsewhere over the last few decades and its appearance will in itself necessitate changes to the world simuliid inventory. Among the anticipated changes are many new species names, erstwhile synonyms restored to valid use for sibling species which previously had vernacular terminology, many new synonyms at both specific and genus-group levels (these relating to names across the Holarctic realm) and much new geographical information. At tribal level a difference will apply to the Prosimuliini. In the forthcoming book (Adler et al., op. cit.) this tribe will be defined in a restricted sense and not in the wide sense that we adopted for the first inventory (Crosskey & Howard, 1997) and use again in the interest of harmony between old and new versions. (See Crosskey, 2002, where a change in the inventory classification to reflect a narrower scope for the Prosimuliini is discussed.)
28-Jun-2004 Dr B R Pitkin