Submitted to: Systematic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 3, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Many plant diseases are spread principally by homopteran insects of the superfamily Membracoidea, including the family Membracidae, which are serious pests of alfalfa, citrus, avocado, coffee, and cocoa. In order to effectively communicate about these pests and judge their pest potential, it is essential that there be identification aids and a predictive higher classification. However, there are no identification keys to all higher taxa of membracids, and the predictiveness of the existing classification is untested. This paper provides those identification aids and improves the higher classification to make it more predictive. It will greatly improve the ability of governmental (including APHIS), agricultural, and research workers to identify intercepted specimens and to predict the pest potential and control options of membracid species newly reportd as pests.
A parsimony-based phylogentic analysis of 83 morphological characters of adults and immatures of 70 representatives of the tribes and subfamilies of Membracidae and two outgroups was used to evaluate the status and relationships of these taxa. Centrotinae apparently give rise to Nessorhininae (syn. n.) and Oxyrhachinae; the latter two taxa are reduced to tribal status. In contrast to previous analyses, a clade comprising Nicomiinae, Centronodinae, Centrodontinae, and the unplaced genera Holdgatiella Evans, Euwalkeria Goding, and Antillotolania Ramos was recovered, but relationships within this clade were not well resolved. Nodonica bispinigera, gen. & sp. n., is described and placed in Centrodontini based on its sister-group relationship to a clade comprising previously described genera of this tribe. Membracinae and Heteronotinae were consistently monophyletic. Neither Darninae nor Smiliinae, as previously defined, was monophyletic on the maximally parsimonious trees, but constraining both as monophyletic groups required only one additional step. The monophyly of Stegaspidinae, including Deiroderes Ramos (unplaced in Membracidae), was supported on some, but not all equally parsimonious trees. More detailed analyses of individual subfamilies, as well as morphological data on the undescribed immatures of several membracid tribes and genera, will be needed to elucidate relationships among tribes and genera. A key to the subfamilies and tribes is provided.