HomeWasp classificationExpeditionsLinksFigWebBiodiversity ExplorerPermits

Afrotropical Hymenoptera Initiative

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera)

AHI homeIdentification keys

Output from this initiative will be published as open access papers by Zookeys.

The virtual book, including well-illustrated dichotomous identification keys in each chapter, will be published by ZooKeys (a peer-reviewed, open-access, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematic zoology). Each chapter will be published as a stand alone peer-reviewed scientific paper with all chapters linked together as a virtual book on the ZooKeys website. The publication will include links to online interactive Lucid/Delta dichotomous and matrix based keys hosted on WaspWeb and AntWeb. The infrastructure is in place on WaspWeb with identification keys for a number of groups currently available.


The ZooKeys publication will be available in 4 different formats: (1) high-resolution, full-colour print version, to satisfy the current requirements of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), as well as for readers who prefer hardcopy, and for the purposes of paper archiving; (2) PDF to provide an electronic version identical to the printed one, to be archived in BHL and PubMedCentral; (3) HTML to provide links to external resources and semantic enhancements to published texts for interactive reading, and (4) XML version based on the TaxPub XML schema to provide archiving document format for PubMedCentral and a machine-readable copy of the contents to facilitate future data mining (Penev et al. 2010).


On-line on WaspWeb users will be able to choose between three different key formats (standard dichotomous keys, Lucid Phoenix interactive dichotomous keys and Lucid matrix keys) depending on their personal preference and proficiency. Although Lucid Phoenix keys are interactive keys they are still dichotomous and a choice needs to be made at each key couplet to continue. Lucid matrix keys, on the other hand, use a different approach where relevant states from multiple character features can be selected independently until identification is achieved.


All keys will be produced using high quality annotated images, highlighting diagnostic characters that are integrated into the key above each couplet. This is a user-friendly output making the keys readily accessible to a wide range of users with diverse expertise. This key format circumvents the requirement of familiarity with morphological terminology associated with the particular group, because the characters are visually illustrated making the keys usable by the lay person.


The first contribution is has been published: van Noort, S, Buffington ML & Forshage, M. 2015. Afrotropical Cynipoidea (Hymenoptera). ZooKeys 493: 1-176. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.493.6353

Key points

  • Chapters will be published as peer-reviewed scientific papers.

  • Major systematic revisionary work such as description of new genera or species will not be included in the preparation of the chapters. However, implementation of necessary taxonomic nomenclatural acts such as synonymy or new combinations will be undertaken.

  • The rational behind this initiative is to produce workable, accessible keys to generic level based on current taxonomic knowledge, a contemporary state-of-the-art resource that will be available to facilitate future systematic revisions. The identification keys can then be expanded and updated as taxonomic progress is made. This is one of the major advantages of electronic output.

Time Frame

The overall project will be dynamic without an end time frame, but will likely encompass a further 5 years particularly given the complexities of treatments for the large superfamilies such as the Ichneumonoidea and Chalcidoidea.

Formatting and layout

See Zookeys author guidelines for formatting requirements and the first contributory chapter to the AHI for layout:

van Noort, S, Buffington ML & Forshage, M. 2015. Afrotropical Cynipoidea (Hymenoptera). ZooKeys 493: 1-176. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.493.6353


The treatment will comprise the following components:


  • Overall introduction to Afrotropical Hymenoptera including morphology, phylogeny, biogeography, conservation, sampling and preservation techniques, and an illustrated dichotomous key (with links to an online interactive key) to the Hymenoptera superfamilies and families of the Afrotropical region.

  • Individual chapters for each of the Hymenoptera superfamilies present in the Afrotropical region, centered on identification keys to families and genera and including a diagnosis, species checklist and biological synopsis for each genus.

    • Traditional dichotomous keys will be published in each chapter and will include colour annotated images above each couplet facilitating the identification process.

    • Online interactive keys will be produced and hosted on WaspWeb. Links to these keys will be included in the publication.

  • Individual treatment of each genus including:

    • Introduction.

    • Diagnosis.

    • Distribution.

    • Biology including economic significance.

    • Species richness.

    • Links to a catalogue of the constituent species, recording distribution and synonymy. This will be hosted online on WaspWeb and not included in the publication.

    • Each genus will be depicted by a habitus illustration providing an overall interpretation of appearance. The illustrations will comprise high quality colour photographs, produced using multi-stack focusing systems.


Once all contributions have been published as individual papers, all chapters will be brought up to date and published as a book in both an electronic format and in a printed version to facilitate use in the field in remote areas without internet access.


Blagoderov, V.; Brake, I.; Georgiev, T.; Penev, L.; Roberts, D.; Ryrcroft, S.; Scott, B.; Agosti, D.; Catapano, T.; Smith, V. 2010. Streamlining taxonomic publication: a working example with Scratchpads and ZooKeys. ZooKeys, 5027 06

Penev, L., Sharkey, M., Erwin, T., van Noort, S., Buffington, M., Seltmann, K., Johnson, N.F., Taylor, M., Thompson, F.C., Dallwitz, M.J. 2009. Data publication and dissemination of interactive keys under the open access model. Forum paper. Zookeys 21: 1-17.

Penev, L.; Roberts, D.; Smith, V.; Agosti, D.; Erwin, T. 2010. Taxonomy shifts up a gear: New publishing tools to accelerate biodiversity research. ZooKeys, 5029 06

Penev, L.; Agosti, D.; Georgiev, T.; Catapano, T.; Miller, J.; Blagoderov, V.; Roberts, D.; Smith, V.; Brake, I.; Ryrcroft, S.; Scott, B.; Johnson, N.; Morris, R.; Sautter, G.; Chavan, V.; Robertson, T.; Remsen, D.; Stoev, P.; Parr, C.; Knapp, S.; Kress, W.; Thompson, F.; Erwin, T. 2010 Semantic tagging of and semantic enhancements to systematics papers: ZooKeys working examples. ZooKeys, 5027 06.

Sharkey, M., Dicky, S.Y., van Noort, S., Seltmann, K., Penev, L. 2009. Revision of the Oriental genera of Agathidinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) with an emphasis on Thailand and interactive keys to genera published in three different formats. ZooKeys 21: 19-54.

Sharkey, M., van Noort, S., Whitfield, J. 2009. Revision of Khoikhoiinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Zookeys 20: 299-348.

Taekul, C., Johnson, N. Masner, L. Polaszek, A. & Rajmohana K. 2010. World species of the genus Platyscelio Kieffer (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae). ZooKeys 5027 06

van Noort, S, Buffington ML & Forshage, M. 2015. Afrotropical Cynipoidea (Hymenoptera). ZooKeys 493: 1-176. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.493.6353

van Noort, S. & Johnson, N. 2009. New species of the plesiomorphic genus Nixonia (Platygastridae, Hymenoptera) from South Africa. Zookeys 20: 31-51.

Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)


Citation: van Noort, S. 2019. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the Afrotropical region. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

Copyright 2004-2019 Iziko Museums of South Africa

customisable counter