About this Research Topic
The Phasmatodea order is considered to be a moderately species-rich (mesodiverse) lineage of terrestrial arthropods, comprising approximately 3,000 described species that are commonly known as stick and leaf insects. These large, tropical, and predominantly nocturnal herbivores are well-known for exhibiting extreme forms of mimicry, whereby they morphologically and behaviourally resemble twigs, bark, and leaves. The Phasmatodea order stands out as one of the last traditional hexapod orders for which a robust and comprehensive higher-level phylogenetic hypothesis is still lacking. The long-standing assumption that coevolution with flowering plants (angiosperms) shaped the extant species diversity has been challenged by recent findings of Mesozoic forms showing interactions with pre-angiosperm plant communities such as gingko forests. Furthermore, recent molecular analyses have largely rejected the traditional classification and demonstrated that biogeography rather than morphological similarities mirrors the relationship among Phasmatodea. Stick insects also gained increasing importance during the last decade serving as model organisms for ecological speciation, the evolution of asexuality, and bionics of movement. This wealth of novel insights and the growing interest in stick insect research during recent years call for a specific collection of articles dedicated to these remarkable arthropods.
This Research Topic aims at gathering contributions from high profile researchers covering a wide array of research areas such as paleontology, morphology (including 3D reconstructions of key character systems) and neuroanatomy, biogeography, molecular phylogeny based on different sets of genes, population genetics and genomics, and large scale transcriptomic studies. We expect to attract entomologists, evolutionary biologists, and a broad general audience with highly visible publications, and to produce substantial synergetic effects among the contributing researchers.
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