Kumar Krishna


Research Interests

Kumar Krishna was a resident Research Associate at the Museum and Emeritus Professor of Biology at City College, City University of New York, who had worked on the systematics, taxonomy and evolution of termites (Isoptera) for many years. He received his Ph.D. and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago under the guidance of Alfred. E. Emerson before joining AMNH and City College in 1962. The order Isoptera comprises about 3,120 described species, living and fossil. In spite of their notoriety as insect pests, only a small number of species are destructive. In fact, termites play a critical role in the ecosystem as recyclers of cellulose, most notably in tropical rainforests. Furthermore, they have an intricate social biology that makes them interesting organisms for researchers in many fields: evolutionary biology, ecology, behavior, physiology, economic biology genetics and other areas of investigation. Although a relatively small order relative to other insect groups, a massive body of literature has been produced on the Isoptera. In addition to its renowned collection of termite specimens (for details see Isoptera), the AMNH has the most complete library on all aspects of termite literature (except for Pest Control) that begins with Linnaeus in 1758. Over the years Krishna’s research, along with his field work in Southeast Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi), has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. In recent years prior to his passing in 2014, Krishna concentrated on producing a database catalogue, which provides complete and up-to-date references to all systematic, zoogeographical, and biological information available for each species of Isoptera. The catalogue was included in a book, “Termites of the World,” published in collaboration with David Grimaldi and Michael Engel. A version of the database catalogue will ultimately be put on the World Wide Web. Krishna collaborated with Grimaldi and Engel in the study of fossil termites in amber from the Cretaceous, which enlarged considerably our knowledge of the fossil record and the evolution of the Isoptera.


Krishna, K. 1961. A generic revision and phylogenetic study of the family Kalotermitidae (Isoptera). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 122(4): 303–408. 

Krishna, K. 1968. Phylogeny and generic reclassification of the Capritermes complex (Isoptera, Termitidae, Termitinae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 138(5): 261–323. .   

Krishna, K. 1989, 1990. Order Isóptera: Termites. In Borror, D.J., C.A. Triplehorn, & N.F. Johnson (eds.), An Introduction to the Study of Insects [6th& 7th Editions]: 234–241; 252-259. Saunders College Publishing; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; xiv+875 pp. 

Krishna, K. 1990. Isoptera. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 195: 76–81. Krishna, K. 1992. Isoptera. In McHenry, R. (ed.), The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Macropedia) [vol. 21, 15th Edition]: 675–679. Encyclopaedia Britannica; Chicago, Illinois; [3]+1016 pp. 

Krishna, K. 1996. New fossil species of termites of the subfamily Nasutitermitinae from Dominican and Mexican amber (Isoptera, Termitidae). American Museum Novitates 3176: 1–13. 

Krishna, K. 2001. Southeast Asian species of the genus Dicuspiditermes (Isoptera: Termitidae: Termitinae). Sociobiology 37(3A): 397–488. 

Krishna, K. 2003. A new species Cavitermes rozeni (Isoptera: Termitidae: Termitinae), from Brazil. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 76(2): 92–95.Krishna, K., & R.L. Araujo. 1968. A revision of the Neotropical termite genus Neocapritermes (Isoptera, Termitidae, Termitinae).Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 138(3): 83–130. 

Krishna, K., & D.A. Grimaldi. 2000. A new subfamily, genus, and species of termite (Isoptera) from New Jersey Cretaceous amber. In Grimaldi, D. (ed.), Studies on Fossils in Amber, with Particular Reference to the Cretaceous of New Jersey: 133–140. Backhuys Publishers; Leiden, the Netherlands; viii+498 pp. 

Krishna, K., & D.A. Grimaldi. 2003. The first Cretaceous Rhinotermitidae (Isoptera): A new species, genus, and subfamily in Burmese amber. American Museum Novitates 3390: 1–10.

Krishna, K. & D.A. Grimaldi. 2009. Diverse Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae (Isoptera) in Dominican amber. American MuseumNovitates 3640: 1–48.

Engel, M.S. & K. Krishna. 2004. Family group names for termites (Isoptera). American Museum Novitates 3432: 1–9.

Engel, M.S. & K. Krishna. 2007. New Dolichorhinotermes from Ecuador and in Mexican amber (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae).American Museum Novitates 3592: 1–8.

Engel, M.S. & K. Krishna. 2007. Drywood termites in Dominican amber (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae). Beiträge zur Entomologie57:263-275.

Engel, M.S., D.A. Grimaldi & K. Krishna. 2007. Primitive termites from the Early Cretaceous of Asia. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie B (Geologie under Paläontologie 371: 1-32.

Engel, M.S., D.A. Grimaldi & K. Krishna. 2007. A synopsis of Baltic amber termites (Isoptera). 2007. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie B (Geologie under Paläontologie 372:1-20.

Engel, M.S., D.A. Grimaldi & K. Krishna. 2009. Termites (Isoptera): Their phylogeny, classification, and rise to ecological dominance. American Museum Novitates 3650: 1-27.

Grimaldi, D.A., M.S. Engel & K. Krishna. 2008. The species of Isoptera (Insecta) from the early Cretaceous Crato formation: A revision. American Museum Novitates 3626: 1–30. Books: 

Krishna, K., & F.M. Weesner (eds.). 1969. Biology of Termites [vol. 1]. Academic Press; New York, New York; xiii+598 pp. 

Krishna, K., & F.M. Weesner (eds.). 1970. Biology of Termites [vol. 2]. Academic Press; New York, New York; xiv+[1]+ 643 pp. 

Krishna, K., M.S. Engel & D.A. Grimaldi. Termites of the World. Oxford University Press (in preparation).