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New data on the presence of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878 on Crete/Greece (Mantodea: Mantidae)

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Three years ago, a finding of a mantis on the Greek island of Crete was reported and discussed in this journal. At that time, the species was not identified without any doubt. Actually, the specimen was a female of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878. Recent data on the presence of this species on Crete are presented, including a distribution map. The nomenclatural issue concerning the taxonomic identity of this species is discussed.
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BVnPC, 10 (118): 6-12 (2021)
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New data on the presence of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl,
1878 on Crete/Greece (Mantodea: Mantidae)
Nuevos datos sobre la presencia de Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878, en
Creta/Grecia (Mantodea: Mantidae)
Torsten van der Heyden 1, Christian J. Schwarz 2
1. Member of the editorial board of BV news Publicaciones Científicas Hamburg (Germany)
tmvdh@web.de
2. Ruhr University Bochum, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, ND 1/31 Bochum
(Germany)
ChristianSchw@gmx.de
ABSTRACT: Three years ago, a finding of a mantis on the Greek island of Crete was reported and
discussed in this journal. At that time, the species was not identified without any doubt. Actually, the
specimen was a female of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878. Recent data on the
presence of this species on Crete are presented, including a distribution map. The nomenclatural issue
concerning the taxonomic identity of this species is discussed.
KEY WORDS: Hierodula tenuidentata Saussure, 1869, Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl,
1878, Sphodromantis viridis (Forskål, 1775), Mantidae, Mantodea, distribution, Crete, Greece.
RESUMEN: Hace tres años se presentó y discutió en esta revista un hallazgo de una mantis en la isla griega
de Creta. En ese momento, la especie no se pudo identificar con absoluta precisión. Realmente, el espécimen
era una hembra de Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878. Se presentan datos recientes
sobre la presencia de esta especie en Creta, incluyendo un mapa de distribución. Se discute la cuestión de la
nomenclatura relativa a la identidad taxonómica de esta especie.
PALABRAS CLAVE: Hierodula tenuidentata Saussure, 1869, Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von
Wattenwyl, 1878, Sphodromantis viridis (Forskål, 1775), Mantidae, Mantodea, distribución, Creta, Grecia.
Introduction
On 24-VII-2018, a specimen of a mantis was observed and photographed in Kouses on the Greek
island of Crete (Fig. 1).
At the time, the species was not identified without any doubt. It was assumed that the specimen
might be a female of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878 or of Sphodromantis viridis
(Forskål, 1775) (VAN DER HEYDEN, 2018b). The specimen turned indeed out to be a female of H.
transcaucasica, an invasive species which has recently become established in the Mediterranean and the
Balkans (BATTISTON et al., 2018, 2020b; CIANFERONI et al., 2018; VAN DER HEYDEN, 2018c; ROMANOWSKI
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et al., 2019; SCHWARZ & EHRMANN, 2019; ZLATKOV et al., 2020; PINTILIOAIE et al., 2021; VUJIĆ et al.,
2021). Recently, more specimens of H. transcaucasica were found on Crete. They are presented here.
Fig. 1: Female of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878, Kouses, Crete, Greece, 24-VII-
2018, (VAN DER HEYDEN, 2018a).
https://www.biodiversidadvirtual.org/insectarium/Paramantini-img1019338.html
Material and methods
The distribution map was created in SimpleMappr (SHORTHOUSE, 2010). We included new
specimens encountered and photographed by the first author as well as data from the online platform
INATURALIST (2021).
Abbreviations
MHNG: Muséum d’histoire naturelle de la Ville de Genève
NHMW: Naturhistorisches Museum Wien
Recent findings of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878 on Crete
On 9-VII-2021, a nymph of H. transcaucasica was observed and photographed in Kalamaki, a small
village located at the southern coast of Crete (Fig. 2).
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Fig. 2: Nymph of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878, Kalamaki, Crete, Greece, 9-VII-
2021. (Photo: Torsten van der Heyden)
On 11-VII-2021 and on 12-VII-2021, single nymphs of H. transcaucasica were found at the same
location in Kalamaki. Additionally, an exuvia of the species was found just a few meters away on 13-VII-
2021 (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3: Exuvia of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878, Kalamaki, Crete, Greece, 13-
VII-2021. (Photo: Torsten van der Heyden)
Furthermore on 13-VII-2021, another nymph of H. transcaucasica was observed and photographed
in Neo Kalamaki, about 600 m southeast of the location of the findings mentioned before (Fig. 4).
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Fig. 4: Nymph of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878, Neo Kalamaki, Crete, Greece,
13-VII-2021. (Photo: Torsten van der Heyden)
Additionally, photos of five specimens of H. transcaucasica recently found on Crete by several
individuals and identified as Hierodula tenuidentata Saussure, 1869 were uploaded to INATURALIST (2021):
Single specimens were found near Chania (northwestern part of Crete), near Agios Nikolaos (northeastern
part of the island) and in Agios Ioannis and Matala (both villages are located in the same area as Kouses,
Kalamaki and Neo Kalamaki) (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5: Distribution of Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878 on Crete, Greece (red dots).
Discussion
Taking the recently recorded specimens into account, it appears that H. transcaucasica is well
established on the island. Since specimens were found in different locations in various areas of Crete, it is
very likely that the species has colonized most parts of the island. Currently, records on Crete are
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concentrated around urbanized areas, which is in concordance with most records in other parts of the
colonized range (BATTISTON et al., 2018; CIANFERONI et al., 2018; VAN DER HEYDEN, 2018c;
ROMANOWSKI et al., 2019; SCHWARZ & EHRMANN, 2019; ZLATKOV et al., 2020; PINTILIOAIE et al., 2021;
VUJIĆ et al., 2021).
This bias has to be regarded as both distributional and methodological. On the one hand, SCHWARZ
& EHRMANN (2019) pointed out that there were no records in western Anatolia at the time, which could have
had provided a migration pathway between the native range of the species in Crimea viz. the eastern shores
of the Black Sea, and the Balkans. It can viably be assumed, therefore, that H. transcaucasica reached and
subsequently spread on the Balkan Peninsula and the islands of the Aegean Sea via human trade routes
(likely via oothecae deposited on cargo).
On the other hand, specimens from urban habitats are more likely to be accidentally recorded than
specimens from natural ecosystems, obscuring the true distribution of the species. Studies on the distribution
and ecology of the species in Crete’s natural habitats are still lacking.
Nomenclatural notes
As pointed out by ZLATKOV et al. (2020), there has been considerable disagreement in the recent
literature regarding the identity of this species. The considerable morphological variability (in particular
regarding the shapes of stigma and pronotum, and the color of discoidal spines) observed in specimens from
Central Asia (native range of H. tenuidentata) and both native and colonized European areas has led
SCHWARZ et al. (2018) and BATTISTON et al. (2018) to suggest a possible synonymy between H.
tenuidentata and H. transcaucasica. Both were described after females, the types of which are housed in the
MHNG and NHMW, respectively.
However, the two species have never been formally synonymized. Nevertheless, several authors
prematurely accepted the synonymy (BATTISTON et al., 2018, 2019, 2020b; MOULIN, 2020; PINTILIOAIE et
al., 2021; VUJIĆ et al., 2021), while others continued to use H. transcaucasica (CIANFERONI et al., 2018;
VAN DER HEYDEN, 2018c; ROMANOWSKI et al., 2019; SCHWARZ & EHRMANN, 2019; ZLATKOV et al., 2020).
This unfortunate development may lead to the false assumption that we are dealing with two different
species in Europe instead of one. This is all the more worrying since the very similar Hierodula patellifera
(Audinet-Serville, 1838) has also become established in Europe (BATTISTON et al., 2020a; MOULIN, 2020)
and might lead to further confusion.
All three taxa belong to a subset of Hierodula species exhibiting rather uniform genital morphology,
while external morphology is characterized by relatively similar habitus but high intraspecific variability. For
this reason, SCHWARZ et al. (2018) pointed out that the investigation of a considerable number of specimens
from across the whole range of H. tenuidentata and H. transcaucasica is necessary to validate or refute the
synonymy. Until the two species receive a proper taxonomic treatment, we suggest to only use H.
transcaucasica for the European populations. The differences to its East Asian congener H. patellifera,
currently known in Europe from southern France and northern Italy, were worked out by BATTISTON et al.
(2020a).
Acknowledgements
We like to thank José Ramón Correas for useful comments on the manuscript.
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... Hierodula transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1878 (Mantodea: Mantidae), a large mantis with a mainly Asiatic distribution, is an invasive species currently spreading in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Region, particularly on the Balkan Peninsula and on islands of the Aegean Sea (Romanowski et al., 2019;van der Heyden & Schwarz, 2021). ...
... Acknowledgements I like to thank Alenka Bogovič and Sergio López Castelo for allowing me to use their photos of H. transcaucasica to illustrate this note and for additional information. van der Heyden (2021): First records of H. transcaucasica Brunner von Wattenwyl in Slovenia and Spain (Mant.: Mantidae) ...
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First record of the alien mantid Hierodula tenuidentata (Insecta: Mantodea) in Romania. Travaux du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
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SimpleMappr, an online tool to produce publication-quality point maps
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