Agudelo visits ZMUH Collection

In October 2012, Antonio Agudelo visited the Zoological Museum of the University of Hamburg (ZMUH) –  just one station on his long trip through the European collections – meeting with Kai Schütte and Frank Wieland. During his stay, Antonio studied the neotropical Mantodea material.

Kai, Frank and Antonio in the Hemimetabola-collection of the ZMH.

Kai, Frank and Antonio in the Mantodea-collection of the ZMUH.


Close encounters - Antonio meets Idolomantis diabolica

Close encounters – Antonio meets Idolomantis diabolica


Svenson featured on NPR!

Listen to audiocast (link on page) on WKSU, Kent State University’s award-winning NPR News and Classical Music public radio station. Serving more than 20 Ohio counties and parts of Western Pennsylvania, 89.7 WKSU operates from the station’s broadcast center in Kent and via repeater stations at 89.1 WKSV in Thompson, 89.3 WKRW in Wooster, 91.5 WKRJ in New Philadelphia, 90.7 WNRK in Norwalk, and via translator station 95.7 in Ashland.

Thanks to Jeff St. Clair for a well-done broadcast on praying mantis systematics research!

Wieland visits Svenson at CMNH

Last week, Frank Wieland visited Gavin Svenson at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Throughout the week they worked on the Smithsonian Mantodea collection, getting an overview and looking for hidden treasures. One focus lay on the morphology of flower mantises for the ongoing revision of that group.

Wieland and Svenson in the CMNH insect collection.

The CMNH insect collection.







Mantises may look mean but the giant Devonian fish Dunkleosteus, of which many specimens have been found in Ohio, certainly looked meaner…

Dunkelosteus, the giant Devonian fish


Visiting Lyman Entomological Museum

After attending the Evolution 2012 conference in Ottawa, Frank Wieland and Julia Goldberg (University of Goettingen, Germany) visited Lyman Entomological Museum in Montreal last week. Curator Stephanie Boucher kindly granted them access to the insect collection of approximately 3 million specimens, where Wieland and Goldberg studied the Mantodea and Phasmatodea collections to get an overview of the material and take pictures.

Lyman Entomological Museum Mantode collection

Wieland in the Mantodea collection of Lyman Entomologial Museum.

Wieland in front of the Mantodea collection of Lyman Entomological Museum in Montreal.

Wieland & Rivera at Evolution ’12

Frank Wieland and Julio Rivera present their praying mantis research at the Evolution 2012 meetings in Ottawa, Canada.

Wieland’s talk was titled- “Digging for the offspring: Multiple convergent evolution of digging structures in female praying mantises (Insecta: Mantodea)”

Rivera’s poster was titled- “The Mantodean egg case: evolutionary hypotheses on their functional diversity and its significance for praying mantis systematics and phylogenetics”

Julio and Frank next to Julio’s poster

Smithsonian Mantodea to CMNH

National Museum of Natural History collection of Mantodea moves to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

On the 27th to 29th of June, 2012 the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, collection of Mantodea was packed and moved from the central collection in Washington, D.C. to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio. An Offsite Collection Enhancement Loan to Dr. Gavin J. Svenson, Curator and Head of Invertebrate Zoology at CMNH, was issued for a duration of at least 10 years to ensure this collection will remain active and accessible to the scientific community. Gavin Svenson has become the curator in charge of this collection and will oversee all specimen loans and image requests. This collection contains approximately 8,000 specimens of pinned and alcohol preserved material as well as approximately 23 type specimens. Over the next 10 years the collection will see active growth and development through the activities of Svenson and collaborators. Visiting the collection at the CMNH is welcomed. Please direct all inquiries to Gavin Svenson regarding this collection or loan of material.

Cabinets in place at CMNH








Unpacking the drawers and moving them into the cabinets


New Pub! Cameron et al. in press

A mitochondrial genome phylogeny of termites (Blattodea: Termitoidae): Robust support for interfamilial relationships and molecular synapomorphies define major clades.

Stephen L. CameronNathan LoThomas BourguignonGavin J. SvensonTheodore A. Evans
Despite their ecological significance as decomposers and their evolutionary significance as the most speciose eusocial insect group outside the Hymenoptera, termite (Blattodea: Termitoidae or Isoptera) evolutionary relationships have yet to be well resolved. Previous morphological and molecular analyses strongly conflict at the family level and are marked by poor support for backbone nodes. A mitochondrial (mt) genome phylogeny of termites was produced to test relationships between the recognised termite families, improve nodal support and test the phylogenetic utility of rare genomic changes found in the termite mt genome. Complete mt genomes were sequenced for 7 of the 9 extant termite families with additional representatives of each of the two most speciose families Rhinotermitidae (3 of 7 subfamilies) and Termitidae (3 of 8 subfamilies). The mt genome of the well supported sister-group of termites, the subsocial cockroach Cryptocercus, was also sequenced. A highly supported tree of termite relationships was produced by all analytical methods and data treatment approaches, however the relationship of the termites + Cryptocercus clade to other cockroach lineages was highly affected by the strong nucleotide compositional bias found in termites relative to other dictyopterans. The phylogeny supports previously proposed suprafamilial termite lineages, the Euisoptera and Neoisoptera, a later derived Kalotermitidae as sister group of the Neoisoptera and a monophyletic clade of dampwood (Stolotermitidae, Archotermopsidae) and harvester termites (Hodotermitidae). In contrast to previous termite phylogenetic studies, nodal supports were very high for family-level relationships within termites. Two rare genomic changes in the mt genome control region were found to be molecular synapomorphies for major clades. An elongated stem-loop structure defined the clade Polyphagidae + (Cryptocercus + termites), and a further series of compensatory base changes in this stem-loop is synapomorphic for the Neoisoptera. The complicated repeat structures first identified in Reticulitermes, composed of short (A-type) and long (B-type repeats) defines the clade Heterotermitinae + Termitidae, while the secondary loss of A-type repeats is synapomorphic for the non-macrotermitine Termitidae.