Giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis soldier, workers and reproductive nymph, from here.

Belongs within: Dictyoptera.
Contains: Hodotermitidae, Kalotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae.

The Isoptera include the termites, social insects that feed on wood and other cellulose-rich plant material. Termites live in colonies with differentiated worker, soldier and/or reproductive castes. The basal families Termopsidae and Kalotermitidae lack a true worker caste with reproductive nymphs fulfilling this role (Inward et al. 2007). The giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is generally accepted as representing the sister group to all other living termites (Euisoptera), retaining plesiomorphic features such as five rather than four tarsal segments, and the presence of an large anal lobe in the hind wing of alates (Grimaldi & Engel 2005). The early Cretaceous ‘cockroach’ Sociala perlucida has been suggested by Vršanský (2010) to be the sister group of Euisoptera on the basis of potential synapomorphies such as the lack of crossveins in the wings, but this would require several features of mastotermitids and Euisoptera to be convergent.

The Termopsidae is a family of termites whose living representatives have a scattered, anti-tropical distribution. Specialised workers are not present in termopsid colonies (Grimaldi & Engel 2005); instead, nymphs function as workers prior to maturing to reproductive alates.

Characters (from Grimaldi & Engel 2005): Eusocial, colonies divided into castes with alate reproductives, wingless soldiers and usually workers. Pronotum highly reduced in size. Wings (when present) dehiscent, shed along humeral or basal suture after nuptial flight. Male genitalia highly reduced and asymmetrical. Ootheca highly reduced or eggs laid singly.

<==Isoptera [Termitida]
    |  i. s.: SkatitermesH79
    |         Pterotermes occidentisMS98
    |    |--CratomastotermitidaeV10
    |    `--MastotermitidaeV10
    |         |--BlattotermesGE05
    |         |--MiotermesGE05
    |         |--SpargotermesGE05
    |         |--Valditermes brenanae Jarzembowski 1981GE05, P92
    |         `--Mastotermes Froggatt 1896H42
    |              |--*M. darwiniensis Froggatt 1896F97, H42 [incl. Termes errabundus Froggatt 1897H42]
    |              |--M. anglicusGE05
    |              |--M. electrodominicusGE05
    |              |--M. electromexicus Krishna & Emerson 1983P92
    |              `--M. sarthensisGE05
    `--+--Sociala Vršanský 2010 [Socialidae]V10
       |    `--*S. perlucida Vršanský 2010V10
            |  i. s.: Cratokalotermes santanensis Bechly 2007V10
            |--Melquartitermes myrrheus Engel, Grimaldi & Krishna 2007V10
               |    |--Cretatermes [Cretatermitinae]GE05
               |    |    `--C. carpenteriGE05
               |    `--TermopsinaeGE05
               |         |--PaleotermopsisGE05
               |         |--Termopsis Heer 1848F97
               |         |--Archotermopsis wroughtoniA50
               |         `--ZootermopsisA50
               |              |--Z. angusticollisMG06
               |              `--Z. nevadensisM59
                  |  `--HodotermopsisIVE07
                  |       |--H. japonicaTW05
                  |       `--H. sjoestedtiIVE07
                     |  `--+--RhinotermitidaeIVE07
                     |     `--Archeorhinotermes [Archeorhinotermitinae]GE05
                     |          `--A. rossiGE05
                     `--+--Porotermes Hagen 1858IVE07, H42 [incl. Planitermes Sjöstedt 1925H42; Porotermitinae]
                        |    |--P. adamsoni (Froggatt 1896) (see below for synonymy)H42
                        |    |--P. grandis Holmgren 1912BP01
                        |    `--P. quadricollisA50
                        `--Stolotermes Hagen 1858IVE07, H42 [Stolotermitinae]
                             |--S. australicus Mjöberg 1920H42
                             |--S. brunneicornis (Hagen 1858) [=Hodotermes (Stolotermes) brunneicornis]H42
                             |--S. inopinusIVE07
                             |--S. queenslandicus Mjöberg 1920H42
                             |--S. ruficeps Brauer 1865H42
                             `--S. victoriensis Hill 1921H42

Porotermes adamsoni (Froggatt 1896) [=Calotermes adamsoni; incl. P. froggatti Holmgren 1911 (n. n.)]H42

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A50] Ahmad, M. 1950. The phylogeny of termite genera based on imago-worker mandibles. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 95 (2): 37–86.

[BP01] Brugerolle, G., & D. J. Patterson. 2001. Ultrastructure of Joenina pulchella Grassi, 1917 (Protista, Parabasalia), a reassessment of evolutionary trends in the parabasalids, and a new order Cristamonadida for devescovinid, calonymphid and lophomonad flagellates. Organisms Diversity and Evolution 1: 147–160.

[F97] Froggatt, W. W. 1897. Australian Termitidae. Part II. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21 (4): 510–552, pls 35–36.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[H79] Howse, P. E. 1979. The uniqueness of insect societies: aspects of defense and integration. In: Larwood, G., & B. R. Rosen (eds) Biology and Systematics of Colonial Organisms pp. 345–374. Academic Press: London.

[IVE07] Inward, D. J. G., A. P. Vogler & P. Eggleton. 2007. A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of termites (Isoptera) illuminates key aspects of their evolutionary biology. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44: 953–967.

[MG06] Mallatt, J., & G. Giribet. 2006. Further use of nearly complete 28S and 18S rRNA genes to classify Ecdysozoa: 37 more arthropods and a kinorhynch. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 772–794.

[MS98] Margulis, L., & K. V. Schwartz. 1998. Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth 3rd ed. W. H. Freeman and Company: New York.

[M59] Morgan, F. D. 1959. The ecology and external morphology of Stolotermes ruficeps Brauer (Isoptera: Hodotermitidae). Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 86 (1): 155–195.

[P92] Poinar, G. O., Jr. 1992. Life in Amber. Stanford University Press: Stanford.

[TW05] Terry, M. D., & M. F. Whiting. 2005. Mantophasmatodea and phylogeny of the lower neopterous insects. Cladistics 21: 240–257.

[V10] Vršanský, P. 2010. Cockroach as the earliest eusocial animal. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition) 84 (4): 793–808.

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