Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1–5 | Cite as

Termite species description rates and the state of termite taxonomy

  • P. Eggleton


Post-1949 taxonomic description rates are described world-wide and from major biogeographical regions. Overall description rates are constant, but this obscures very large differences between the shape of curves of rates in different regions. Most strikingly, description rates have risen enormously in China since the mid 1970s, but dropped greatly in Africa over the same time period. (Rates in other regions have remained approximately constant, although there are signs of a reduction in taxonomic activity in the Oriental region). The reasons for this appear to be a rough balance between a shrinking pool of European, Indian and north American termite taxonomists who were publishing monographic works, and an increasing number of Chinese taxonomists publishing non-monographic works that individually describe relatively few species. This mixture of activity has produced a steady rate of species descriptions, but a very uneven, and possibly globally misdirected, geographical spread of effort. International termite taxonomy is in severe decline.

Key words: Isoptera, alpha taxonomy, synonymy rate, biogeographical regions, China. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Eggleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Termite Research Group, Entomology Department, The Natural History Museum, SW7 5BD London, UK, e-mail:

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