Sydney K. Brannoch and several collaborators have created the Manual of Praying Mantis Morphology, Nomenclature and Practices, which has been published by ZooKeys. It provides a comprehensive review of historical morphological nomenclature used for praying mantis (Mantodea) morphology, and proposes standard terms for use in all subsequent works pertaining to praying mantis morphology and systematics. Methods are described for the proper collection, preservation and storage of specimens for longevity and ease of study.
See also the CMNH post.
Andrew Nisip, a native of Lake Worth, Florida, was a Kirtlandia Summer Intern at CMNH. He worked under the direction of Sydney Brannoch, PhD candidate, and Dr. Gavin Svenson, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, cataloging praying mantis specimens from the Smithsonian Institution’s collection, and conducted research that contributed to describing two new mantis species. He graduated this year from the University of Florida, Gainesville, with a degree in entomology, studying insect biology, biosystematics and behavior.
Henrique Rodrigues spent four weeks between March and April 2017 in Brazil doing fieldwork. For three weeks he looked for praying mantises for his PhD project, while also looking to increase knowledge on Brazilian biodiversity. He visited five National Parks in two different biomes, the Cerrado (the Brazilian Savannah) and the Atlantic Forest (a complex forest on the east of Brazil), having traveled 2000 miles. After that, he spent another week attending the first workshop dedicated exclusively to praying mantises, which took place in Manaus, at the heart of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. He met other praying mantis researchers from around the world and was able to look for mantises from the Amazon.
Hondurantemna chespiritoi, A,B ♂; C,D ♀
A new publication in ZooKeys by Henrique M. Rodrigues, Julio Rivera, Neil Reid and Gavin J. Svenson describes a new genus and species of mantid, Hondurantemna chespiritoi. Different cryptic morphologic strategies are noted between immature and adult females. Phylogenetic and morphological analysis places the new genus in the formerly monotypic subfamily Antemninae in the Mantidae family.
See related CMNH website posts here and here.
Sydney Brannoch & Henrique Rodrigues visited the entomology collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for several days. They examined Mantodea type material and coded morphological characters for their individual doctoral research projects.
Ilomantis female genitalia complex
A new publication by Sydney Brannoch and Gavin Svenson published in Insect Systematics & Evolution resurrects the genus Ilomantis and describes a new species I. ginsburgae using morphological characters observed on the female genital complex, a novel character system for delimiting mantodean taxa. Ilomantis ginsburgae was named in honor of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her relentless fight for women’s rights and gender equality.
See also the article and video on the CMNH website.
A new ZooKeys publication by Brannoch & Svenson describes a new genus and species of praying mantis from Madagascar: Cornucollis masoalensis Brannoch & Svenson, 2016. The genus is named for distinctive projections arising from the cervical (i.e., “neck”) region and the species is named for Masoala, the region where the specimen was collected in Madagascar.
Sydney Brannoch describes this research in a video found here.
Alangularis multilobata ♀
A new publication in Systematic Entomology by Svenson et al. describes the revision of the Neotropical horned praying mantis tribe Vatini (Stål) using phylogenetic analysis based on molecular and coded morphological data. The resulting taxonomic treatment includes a new tribe (Heterovatini) within Vatinae containing two historically enigmatic genera. The results also support the synonymy of three genera, the validity of six other established genera, and the identification of one new genus, Alangularis. In addition, the research traces the evolution of the distinctive disruptive camouflage features of this group.
Dr. Svenson describes this research in a video. See also the CMNH website article on this research.
Gavin Svenson and Sydney Brannoch travelled to Europe to review mantid collections in Dresden, Prague and Vienna, and present at the Insect Phylogeny conference in Dresden. Many mantid specimens were borrowed from NHM Vienna for research projects at CMNH.
2015 Insect Phylogeny Conference, Dresden
Gavin Svenson, Harald Bruckner of NHM Vienna, and Sydney Brannoch on the roof of the museum in Vienna
Some of the borrowed specimens
Gavin Svenson and Sydney Brannoch spent two weeks in May 2015 conducting fieldwork in Vietnam. They were part of a larger entomological collecting group, composed of Seth Bybee (Brigham Young University), Wendy Moore (University of Arizona), Nathan Lord (Georgia College), and James Roberston (University of Arizona). Svenson and Brannoch collected many different species of praying mantises in Cát Tiên National Park, Tà Cú Mountain, and Phú Quốc National Park. The entomologists collected many incredible insect specimens, had the opportunity to see Vietnam’s largest reclining Buddha, and ate a lot of Phở!