Termites (Isoptera): Their Phylogeny, Classification, and Rise to Ecological Dominance

  title={Termites (Isoptera): Their Phylogeny, Classification, and Rise to Ecological Dominance},
  author={Michael S. Engel and David A. Grimaldi and Kumar. Krishna},
Abstract Like ants, termites are entirely eusocial and have profound ecological significance in the tropics. Following upon recent studies reporting more than a quarter of all known fossil termites, we present the first phylogeny of termite lineages using exemplar Cretaceous, Tertiary, and Recent taxa. Relationships among Recent families were largely unaffected by the addition of extinct taxa, but the analysis revealed extensive grades of stem-group taxa and the divergence of some modern… 

The diversification of termites: inferences from a complete species-level phylogeny

This study provides the first complete, species-level phylogeny of all currently recognized termite species by integrating the available genetic and taxonomic data, as well as methods of phylogenetic imputation and divergence time estimation, and provides the inferred relationships as a set of 1,000 pseudo-posterior trees.

The diversification of termites: Inferences from a complete species‐level phylogeny

It is demonstrated that speciation rates have been relatively constant throughout the history of termites, with two positive shifts inSpeciation rates are demonstrated: one at their origin of Euisoptera and the other concordant with evolution of Termitidae.

Phylogeny, biogeography and classification of Teletisoptera (Blattaria: Isoptera)

Overall, the results suggest that early diverging termite lineages acquired their current distribution through a combination of over‐water dispersals and dispersal via land bridges.

Termite Phylogenetics and Co-cladogenesis with Symbionts

A consensus has emerged that the sister-group of termites is the wood-feeding cockroach genus Cryptocercus, and that the digestion of wood by the common ancestor of these two groups was aided by cellulolytic hindgut flagellates.

The evolutionary history of termites as inferred from 66 mitochondrial genomes.

The inference of ancestral geographic ranges shows that the Termitidae, which includes more than 75% of extant termite species, most likely originated in Africa or Asia, and acquired their pantropical distribution after a series of dispersal and subsequent diversification events.

Termite evolution: mutualistic associations, key innovations, and the rise of Termitidae

An overview of the key innovative traits acquired by termites during their evolution, which ultimately set the stage for the emergence of “higher” termites, and discusses two hypotheses concerning the loss of protists in Termitidae.

Biogeography , ecological function and the evolution of termite ( Blattodea : Termitoidae ) functional morphology

Termites are some of the most important invertebrate decomposer organisms and are found globally, largely in tropical habitats. Their impact on local ecosystems has been extensively studied (Lee and

The Role of Symbionts in the Evolution of Termites and Their Rise to Ecological Dominance in the Tropics

It is argued that the behavioural and ontogenetic characteristics of termite societies are the internalisation of a community of microorganisms derived from and representing an earlier external rumen, resulting in the extant eusociality characterised by generational overlap, proctodaeal feeding, altricial development, paedomorphosis and co-evolution with microorganisms.



Morphological phylogenetics of termites (Isoptera)

This study highlights the particular problems of coding morphological characters in social insects with multiple castes and analyses relationships between all seven termite families, including representatives of all known feeding group, plus a number of systematically critical taxa.

Early Fossil History of the Termites

It is suggested that the driving forces behind modern termite distributions were not early evolution and continental drift, but rather an explosive Tertiary radiation followed by broad and rapid dispersal as termites became ecologically dominant consumers.

A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of termites (Isoptera) illuminates key aspects of their evolutionary biology.

A Comprehensive Phylogeny of Beetles Reveals the Evolutionary Origins of a Superradiation

The phylogeny of Coleoptera found that the success of beetles is explained neither by exceptional net diversification rates nor by a predominant role of herbivory and the Cretaceous rise of angiosperms, suggesting that beetle species richness is due to high survival of lineages and sustained diversification in a variety of niches.


During the final phases of completing a new, annotated world catalog of the termites (Isoptera) two family-group names for termites were discovered that had been overlooked during prior accounts of such names, and the name Miotermitinae is formally placed into synonymy with Mastotermitidae (newsynonymy).

Phylogenetic evidence for a single, ancestral origin of a ‘true’ worker caste in termites

A test for correlated evolution which takes phylogenetic structure into account indicates that this pattern is of biological significance and suggests that the variable occurrence of a worker caste in termites has ecological determinants, apparently linked to differences in feeding and nesting habits.

A phylogenetic analysis of Dictyoptera ( Insecta ) based on morphological characters

A cladistic analysis of Dictyoptera is presented based on a data set comprising 27 ingroup taxa and 175 characters from morphology and life history, with a focus on the asymmetrical male genitalia, which are well developed only in Blattaria and Mantodea.


The termites play an essential ecological role in the decomposition and recycling of a nutritionally poor, highly resistant, but extremely abundant substance: lignocellulose.

A formicine in New Jersey cretaceous amber (Hymenoptera: formicidae) and early evolution of the ants.

  • D. GrimaldiD. Agosti
  • Biology, Geography
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
The apex of the gaster has an acidopore and, thus, allows definitive assignment of the fossil to the large extant subfamily Formicinae, members of which use a defensive spray of formic acid.