Orthoptera Systematics

With more than 27,000 extant species, Orthoptera are the most diverse order among the polyneopteran insect lineages. The order includes familiar singing insects, such as crickets and katydids, as well as often‐devastating pests, such as grasshoppers and locusts. Orthopteran insects have diversified into numerous lineages that occupy every conceivable terrestrial habitat outside the polar regions and play integral roles in their ecosystems. Such diversity in form and function has attracted researchers who use these insects as model systems for studying anatomy, bioacoustics, chemical ecology, evolutionary ecology, life‐history traits, neurobiology, physiology, and speciation.

Nevertheless, there has been an alarming rate of decline in taxonomic expertise in Orthoptera in the last 30 years and currently there are only a handful of experts in the world who can adequately describe and classify these insects. My lab currently represents the only orthopteran systematics lab in the U.S. that can train the next generation of orthopterists. Thus, I feel an urgent sense of mission to advance and revitalize the field of orthopteran systematics, and my lab aims to become the world-renowned center for advancing orthopteran systematics.

My research program on orthopteran systematics is quite broad, covering descriptive and revisionary taxonomy, morphological and molecular phylogenetics, of various lineages within Orthoptera. Although my own taxonomic expertise is in grasshoppers (Acrididae), my research program has no boundary when it comes to taxonomic scope within Orthoptera.

Over the past few years, my research program has gradually shifted towards phylogenomics. My lab now regularly employs NGS-enabled techniques including shotgun sequencing, RNA-seq, RAD-seq, and target enrichment for phylogenetic sequence data generation. My lab also maintains a large DNA-grade tissue collection from specimens collected around the world for advancing orthopteran systematics.

Representative Papers:

  • Mariño-Pérez, R. and Song, H. 2019. On the origin of the New World Pyrgomorphidae (Insecta: Orthoptera). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 139: 106537.
  • Mugleston, J.D., Naegle, M., Song, H., and Whiting, M.F. 2018. A Comprehensive Phylogeny of Tettigoniidae (Orthoptera: Ensifera) Reveals Extensive Ecomorph Convergence and Widespread Taxonomic Incongruence. Insect Systematics and Diversity 2(4): 5; 1-27.
  • Song, H., Mariño-Pérez, R.,Woller, D.A., and Cigliano, M.M. 2018. Evolution, diversification, and biogeography of grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Insect Systematics and Diversity 2(4): 3; 1-25.
  • Song, H., Amédégnato, C., Cigliano, M.M., Desutter-Grandcolas, L., Heads, S.W., Huang, Y., Otte, D. and Whiting, M.F. 2015. 300 million years of diversification: Elucidating the patterns of orthopteran evolution based on comprehensive taxon and gene sampling. Cladistics 31: 621-651.
  • Song, H. 2010. Grasshopper systematics: Past, present and future. Journal of Orthoptera Research 19(1): 57-68.