Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr

Subterranean Termites (Rhinotermitidae)

  • Anne-Geneviève BagnèresEmail author
  • Edward L. Vargo
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_120-1

Phylogeny and Classification

The worldwide family Rhinotermitidae, or subterranean termites, comprises 15 genera and more than 300 species. They occupy an intermediate position between the so-called “lower” and “higher” termites and so are often referred to as “intermediate” termites [1].

The Rhinotermitidae appears to be paraphyletic, with most researchers placing the clade with Coptotermes and Heterotermes as a sister group to the Termitidae. Some researchers regard the Serritermitidae as paraphyletic within the Rhinotermitidae-Termitidae clade, while others place it as a basal group of Rhinotermitidae, near other basal groups such as Rhinotermes, Prorhinotermes, and Schedorhinotermes. Other researchers feel that Serritermitidae lies at the crossroads of worker caste evolution in termites, between the lower termites and the Rhinotermitidae+Termitidae clade. The most basal rhinotermitid taxa, such as Rhinotermes, diverged from the other lower termites less than 100 MA ago. The latest...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE)CNRSMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA