About the Mantodea Image Database (MantID)

The Database Project

PM web site

This online image database (MantID) is a component of Project Mantodea: Systematics and Evolution, a research project funded by a Revisionary Synthesis in Systematics (REVSYS) grant from the US National Science Foundation awarded to GJ Svenson. Its purpose is to provide an online digital image reference for examining the diagnostic morphological characters traditionally used in identifying and classifying mantid taxa, as phylogenetic work in current research challenges past evolutionary assumptions. To maximize the utility of this reference, at least two views (dorsal/ventral/lateral) of each specimen are typically included. Recently, live habitus images taken during field expeditions have also been added. The image database, and the key goals and progress of the research, are described in the main project web site.

MantID contains only the data needed to associate the specimens to their images, such as taxa and collection repository, and to provide an organized method of image retrieval. Classification is based on the 29 families and 60 subfamilies proposed by Schwarz and Roy (2019). Where subfamily names are absent, "placeholders" consisting of tribe names (if available) or family-name derivatives (-nae*) are employed. More detailed collection data and taxonomic treatments can be found in other web sites, such as the Mantodea Species File Online.

The Images

The mantid specimens in MantID were photographed on-site at various museums and universities around the world, using the photomacrography setup pictured above: a Passport portable digital imaging system from Visionary Digital, which includes a Stackshot z-stepper, a Canon 5D II SLR, macro lenses (50mm, 100mm, and MP-E 65mm), and Speedlight 580EX II flash units. An associated computer running Canon Utility, Adobe Lightroom, and Zerene Stacker software controlled the image acquisition and stacking process. All images were captured over an 18% grey card background for exposure control. Images were processed in Adobe Photoshop to fine-tune levels, contrast, exposure, sharpness, and add scale bars (10 mm).

The high resolution image zooming capabilty in MantID is implemented with OpenSeadragon open-source web viewer and DZI-format images.

Live habitus images in MantID were taken in the field, mostly by Gavin Svenson with a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS unless otherwise indicated. They are displayed as full-res jpgs without zooming capability.

Using the Images:

When viewing a specimen image, the viewer window allows downloading of the displayed portion; just zoom to the portion you want and save the image. If you would like a jpg of the full-resolution image, please contact Gavin Svenson at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH). In either case, you must obtain permission to use any of these images for publication or commercial purposes.


The mantodea image database was developed by Gavin Svenson, with images of type specimens in museum collections he visited, along with specimens he collected on field trips starting in 2001. (The GSMC collection at CMNH contains well over 6500 specimens--not all imaged, yet.) Nate Hardy collaborated with Svenson on field work and built the original image web site (Mantispp) in 2013, using web2py as the framework for the web interface to the database. Type specimens were also imaged by Julio Rivera and Rick Wherley during museum visits in South America, the U.S., and Europe. Mantodea Species File Online and Mantodea: Gottesanbeterinnen der Welt (Reinhard Ehrmann, 2002) were the main references for the taxonomic nomenclature, along with amendments from more recent publications. The current version of the image database (MantID) continues to expand and is maintained by Rick Wherley, with additional images, taxonomic input and helpful suggestions from Henrique Rodrigues, both in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology under Gavin Svenson at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.