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Insects 2019, 10(1), 32;

Termite Taxonomy, Challenges and Prospects: West Africa, A Case Example

Zoology I: Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, University of Freiburg, Hauptstrasse 1, 79104-Freiburg, Germany
Laboratory of Applied Entomology, Department of Zoology and Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, S/C University of Lomé, 1 BP 1515 Lomé 1, Togo
Laboratory of Applied Ecology, University of Abomey-Calavi, 03 BP 3908 Cotonou, Benin
Departamento de Química y Biología, Universidad del Norte, Kilómetro 5 Antigua vía Puerto Colombia, 081007-Puerto Colombia, Colombia
Institute of Science (IDS), University Ouaga I Pr Joseph KI-ZERBO (UO1PJKZ), O1 BP 2127 Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
Ecologie végétale et biogéochimie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium
Université Nangui Abrogoua, UFR des Sciences de la Nature (UFR SN), Unité de Recherche en Ecologie et Biodiversité (UREB) & Station de Recherche en Ecologie du Parc National de la Comoé, 28 BP 847 Abidjan 28, Cote d’Ivoire
Laboratoire de Zoologie des Invertébrés Terrestres, IFAN B. P. 206 Dakar, Senegal
Department of Forestry and Wildlife Resources Management, University of Calabar, Calabar Cross River State, P.M.B 1123 Calabar, Nigeria
Department of Biology, Section for Ecology and Evolution, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen East, Denmark
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, B-150 Brussels, Belgium
Institut du Développement Rural, Université Nazi Boni, 01BP 1091 Bobo 01, Burkina Faso
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 November 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology of Termites)
PDF [1289 KB, uploaded 16 January 2019]


Termites are important ecosystem engineers. Yet they are often difficult to identify due to the lack of reliable species-specific morphological traits for many species, which hampers ecological research. Recently, termitologists working with West African termites (West African Termite Taxonomy Initiative) convened for a workshop with the aim of beginning to address this problem. Repeated determination of the same termite samples by the most renowned taxonomists for West African termites identified the huge scale of the problem, as less than 10% of all species could be unambiguously determined to the species level. Intensive discussions and comparisons increased the identification success to around 25% at the end of the workshop. Yet many groups remained problematic and molecular markers and barcoding techniques combined with species delimitation approaches will be needed to help resolve these existing taxonomic problems. Based on the outcome of this workshop, we propose concerted initiatives to address termite taxonomy on a global scale. We are convinced that dedicated workshops on regional taxonomy that follow a similar structured approach, with repeated determination of the same sample, will help overcome the difficulties that termite taxonomy faces. This initiative can also serve as a blueprint for other taxonomical groups that are difficult to identify. View Full-Text
Keywords: Africa; barcoding; ecology; Isoptera; social insect; taxonomy; termite Africa; barcoding; ecology; Isoptera; social insect; taxonomy; termite

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Korb, J.; Kasseney, B.D.; Cakpo, Y.T.; Casalla Daza, R.H.; Gbenyedji, J.N.K.B.; Ilboudo, M.E.; Josens, G.; Koné, N.A.; Meusemann, K.; Ndiaye, A.B.; Okweche, S.I.; Poulsen, M.; Roisin, Y.; Sankara, F. Termite Taxonomy, Challenges and Prospects: West Africa, A Case Example. Insects 2019, 10, 32.

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