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Associate Professor Mike D. Picker

Associate Professor Mike D. Picker

Insect ecology of semiarid regions; insect systematics; insect biogeography 
Phone: 021 6503630 





 My broad interests in entomology have been useful in providing resolution of enigmatic landscape features such as heuweltjies and Namibian fairly circles, and I have made notable contributions to biodiversity exploration and profiling of the winter rainfall biomes of South Africa. After the discovery in 2002 of the new insect order Mantophasmatodea in South Africa, I have been involved in the on-going systematics of the order, and various other aspects of Heelwalker biology. The recent detection of the new insect order in the winter rainfall parts of South Africa, and the 2010 discovery of Saltoblattella, the world’s first jumping cockroach on Table Mountain suggests that the biodiversity of the Cape region still remains relatively unexplored. Currently I am working on a profile of the invertebrate fauna of the fynbos and succulent karoo biomes of South Africa. The co-authored publication of a substantive “Field Guide to Insects of Southern Africa” (2002).

 I have acted as external examiner for the following tertiary institutions : Biology Department, University of KZN, Durban (1996); Zoology Department, University of the Western Cape (1997-2002); School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand (2008 – 2011). Editorial work for journal includes Associate editorship for African Zoology (2005-2009), and Editor in Chief for  African Entomology 2009 – 2011. University work includes acting as Student Adviser for the Science Faculty (1992-1994, 1999-2007, 2012), Science Faculty Animal Ethics Committee Chair, and Senate Animal Ethics Committee Committee member.


PICKER, M.D. & GRIFFITHS, C. 2011. Alien and Invasive animals – A South African  perspective. Struik-Random House Publishers, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1-77007-823-9.



 PICKER, M.D., WEAVING, A. & GRIFFITHS, C.  (2002). Field Guide to the Insects of South Africa.  Struik Publishers, Cape Town. 408 pp. ISBN 978-1-77007-061-5.



 Recent Selected Publications

LYONS, C., PICKER, M. D. & CARRICK, P. 2008. Evaluating restoration success of alluvial diamond-mined sites using invertebrate community indicators. Mine Closure Proceedings 3: 821-830.

OLLERTON, J., MASINDE, S., MEVE, U., PICKER, M. & WHITTINGTON, A. 2009. Fly pollination in Ceropegia (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae): Biogeographic and phylogenetic perspectives. Annals of Botany 103(9):1501-1514. doi:10.1093/aob/mcp072.

Daniels, S. R., Picker, M. D. Cowlin, R. M. & Hamer, M. 2009. Unravelling evolutionary lineages among South African velvet worms (Onychophora: Peripatopsis) - evidence for cryptic species complexes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 97(1):200-216. 

BOHN, H., M. PICKER, K.-D. KLASS & J. COLVILLE. 2010. A jumping cockroach from South Africa, Saltoblattella montistabularis, gen. nov., spec. nov. (Blattodea: Blattellidae). - Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny, 68 (1): 53-69.

BURROWS, M. & PICKER, M. D. 2010. Jumping in Pygmy Mole Crickets (Orthoptera, Tridactyloidea). Journal of Experimental Biology 213:2386-2398.

MCGEOCH, M, H SITHOLE, M SAMWAYS, J. P. SIMAIKE, J. S. PRYKE, M. PICKER, C UYS, ADRIAN J. ARMSTRONG, A. S. DIPPENAAR SCHOEMAN, I. A. ENGELBRECHT, B. BRASCHLER, M. HAMER. 2011. Conservation and monitoring of invertebrates in terrestrial protected areas. Koedoe 53(2). Art. #1000, 13 pages. doi:10.4102/koedoe.v53i2.1000.

Djernæs, M, Klass, K-D, Picker, M. D. & Damgaard, J. Phylogeny of cockroaches (Insecta: Dictyoptera - Blattodea) with placement of aberrant taxa: exploration of outgroup sampling and datasets. Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution.

PICKER, M. D., COLVILLE, J. F. & BURROWS, M. 2011. A cockroach that jumps. Biology Letters. published online 7 December 2011. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.1022.

PICKER, M. D., ROSS-GILLESPIE, V., VLIEGHE, K., & MOLL, E. 2012. Ants and the enigmatic Namibian fairy circles – cause and effect? Ecological Entomology 37(1), 33-42. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2011.01332.x

Mantophasmatodea Publications

Website :

PICKER, M. D., COLVILLE, J. & VANNOORT, S.  2002.  Mantophasmatodea now in South Africa.  Science, August 30, 297: 1475.

KLASS, K-D, PICKER, M. D., DAMGAARD, J, VANNOORT S. & TOJO, K. (2003). The Taxonomy, Genitalic Morphology, and Phylogenetic Relationships of South African Mantophasmatodea (Insecta). Entomologische Abhandlungen 61(1):3-68.

KLASS, K.-D., DAMGAARD, J. & PICKER, M. D. (2003). Species diversity and intraordinal phylogenetic relationships of Mantophasmatodea. In: KLASS, K.-D. (Hrsg.): Proceedings of the 1st Dresden meeting on insect phylogeny: "Phylogenetic Relationships within the Insect Orders" (Dresden, September 19-21, 2003). - Entomologische Abhandlungen 61: 144-146.

KLASS, K.-D., DAMGAARD, J. & PICKER, M. D. (2003). Die neue Insektenordnung Mantophasmatodea: Morphologie, phylogenetische Beziehungen und Diversität. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik (Dresden, September 2003). - Organisms, Diversity and Evolution 3(4).

TOJO, K., MACHIDA, R., KLASS, K-D & PICKER, M. D. 2004.  Biology of South African Heel-walkers, with special reference to reproductive biology. (Insecta: Mantophasmatodea). Proc. Arthropod. Embryol. Soc. Jpn. 39:15-21.

MACHIDA, R., TOJO, K., TSUTSUMI, T., UCHIFUNE, T., KLASS, K-D., PICKER, M.D. & PRETORIUS, L. 2004. Embryonic development of Heel-walkers: reference to some prevolutionary stages (Insecta: Mantophasmatodea). Proc. Arthropod. Embryol. Soc. Jpn. 39:31-39.

TSUTSUMI, T., MACHIDA, R., TOJO, K., UCHIFUNE, T., KLASS, K-D., PICKER, M.D. 2004. Transmission electron microscope observations of the egg membranes of a South African Heel-walker, Karoophasma biedouwensis (Insecta: Mantophasmatodea). Proc. Arthropod. Embryol. Soc. Jpn. 39:23-29.

PREDEL, R., ROTH, S., NEUPERT, S. & PICKER, M. 2005. New insect order Mantophasmatodea: species differentiation by mass fingerprints of peptide hormones? Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 43(2):149- 156.

CHOWN, S.L., MARAIS, E., PICKER, M.D. & TERBLANCHE, J.S. 2006. Gas exchange characteristics, metabolic rate and water loss of the Heelwalker, Karoophasma biedouwensis (Mantophasmatodea: Austrophasmatidae). Journal of Insect Physiology 52(5):442-449.

EBERHARD, M. J. B., PICKER, M. D. 2008. Vibrational Communication in two sympatric species of Mantophasmatodea (Heelwalkers). Journal of Insect Behaviour. 21:240-257.

Damgaard, J., Klass, K-D., Picker, M.D., Buder, G. 2008. Phylogeny of the Heelwalkers (Insecta: Mantophasmatodea) based on mtDNA sequences, with evidence for additional taxa in South Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 47(2), 443-462.

Hockman, D., Picker, M. D., Klass, K-D. & Pretorius, L. 2008. Postembryonic development of the unique antenna of Mantophasmatodea (Insecta). Arthropod structure and development 38(2):125-133.

EBERHARD, M. J. B., PASS, G., PICKER, M. D. & BEUTEL, R., PREDEL, R. & GORB, S. 2009. Structure and function of the arolium of Mantophasmatodea (Insecta). Journal of Morphology 270(10):1247-1261.

Eberhard, M.J.B., Lang, D., Metscher, B., Pass, G., Picker, M.D. &  Wolf, H. 2010. Structure and sensory physiology of the leg scolopidial organs in Mantophasmatodea and their role in vibrational communication. Arthropod Struct. Dev. 39(4):230-41. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2010.02.002

EBERHARD, M. J. B., PICKER, M. D., & KLASS, K-D. 2011. Sympatry in Mantophasmatodea, with the description of a new species and phylogenetic considerations. Organisms Diversity and Evolution 11(1), 43-59.