Azteca pittieri

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Azteca pittieri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Genus: Azteca
Species: A. pittieri
Binomial name
Azteca pittieri
Forel, 1899

Azteca pittieri casent0903018 p 1 high.jpg

Azteca pittieri casent0903018 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Synonyms

The taxonomy and biology of this species is reviewed in Longino (1996). More recent studies of the relationship between Cordia alliodora and Azteca pittieri are Tillberg (2004), and Trager & Bruna (2006). This species is the dominant inhabitant of the ant plant Cordia alliodora. Most Cordia alliodora plants in Costa Rica harbor colonies of A. pittieri. Founding queens can be found alone in Cordia nodes, and never seem to found pleometrotically. Colonies are apparently monogynous, with workers, brood, and coccoid Hemiptera dispersed in nodes throughout the tree. Workers are aggressive and forage on the surface of the host tree, but do not generally forage off the host tree. (Longino 2007)

Identification

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Mexico to Panama.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica (type locality), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Longino (2007) - A set of collections of A. pittieri have been made from understory Lauraceae. I collected workers from small trees (either Ocotea or Licaria) at Tortuguero, and workers and alate queens from Ocotea nicaraguensis at Carara Biological Reserve. These were dispersed in live branch tips, with general colony structure and behavior much like the colonies in Cordia. INBio Parataxonomists collected isolated queens at Rancho Quemado on the Osa Peninsula

Castes

Worker

Queen

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • pittieri. Azteca pittieri Forel, 1899c: 120, pl. 4, fig. 16 (w.) COSTA RICA. Menozzi, 1927d: 337 (q.m.). See also: Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 237. Senior synonym of emarginatisquamis: Longino, 1996: 144; of patruelis: Longino, 2007: 43.
  • patruelis. Azteca longiceps subsp. patruelis Forel, 1908c: 392 (footnote) (s.w.q.) MEXICO. Raised to species: Longino, 1996: 142. Junior synonym of pittieri: Longino, 2007: 43.
  • emarginatisquamis. Azteca pittieri var. emarginatisquamis Forel, 1921a: 204 (w.) COSTA RICA. Junior synonym of pittieri: Longino, 1996: 144.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.

Longino (2007) - The collections from Lauraceae are probably a distinct species, and I use the morphospecies code JTL-007 for them, but I cannot identify any morphological characters that distinguish them from the Cordia-inhabiting A. pittieri. The mandibles tend to be somewhat more setose, with larger and more abundant piligerous puncta compared to the specimens from Cordia. On some workers there are a few short setae on the side of the head posterior to eye, and the general surface pubescence is more abundant and longer. All other characters fall well within the range of variation for the Cordia specimens.

In Costa Rica, the queens of the Cordia-inhabiting A. pittieri cluster into two size classes. Smaller queens are from the Pacific lowlands, up to about 500m elevation. Larger queens occur at higher elevations on the Pacific slope, throughout the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, and the scattered collections from further north in Central America and southern Mexico, including the type of Azteca patruelis. Given that the two forms are parapatric and appear to have identical natural history, I am reluctant to consider them distinct species until additional collections and characters are examined.

Description

Worker

Longino (2007) - (n=28): HLA 1.01 (0.77–1.21), HW 0.84 (0.64–0.99), SL 0.53 (0.44–0.60), CI 0.83 (0.78–0.89), SI 0.54 (0.49–0.60).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible smooth and shiny, row of large puncta along masticatory margin with setae, others small and lacking setae; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head elongate with weakly convex sides, strongly excavate posterior margin; in lateral profile pronotum shallowly convex, mesonotum slightly more convex and forming slightly separate convexity; scape with moderately abundant, inconspicuous erect setae, length of setae about one half maximum width of scape; mid and hind tibia with moderately abundant erect setae, longest about one half maximum width of tibia; side of head with 2–5 short erect setae anterior to eye, lacking setae elsewhere; posterior margin of head with abundant short erect setae; pronotum, mesonotum, and dorsal face of propodeum with abundant erect setae; color brown.

Queen

Longino (2007) - (n=64): HLA 1.48 (1.29–1.68, 62), HW 1.02 (0.83–1.14), SL 0.65 (0.59–0.72, 13), CI 68 (63–74, 62), SI 44 (42–45, 13).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible with row of large puncta at masticatory margin, these bearing long setae, otherwise puncta small and lacking setae, surface smooth and shiny over variable extent of surface, becoming faintly microareolate and dull toward base; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head rectangular, posterior margin distinctly excised medially; petiolar node short, bluntly rounded; posteroventral petiolar lobe moderately convex from front to back; scape with moderately abundant erect setae, about as long as one half maximum width of scape; middle and hind tibia with moderately abundant erect setae, longest about as long as one third maximum width of tibia (MTSC 5–15), side of head with 0–5 short erect setae near mandibular insertion, lacking setae elsewhere, posterior margin of head with abundant short setae; pronotum with posterior row of erect setae, mesoscutum and propodeum with sparse to abundant erect setae, scutellum with abundant erect setae, petiolar node in profile with 4–8 pairs erect setae projecting above apex, posteroventral lobe with abundant short erect setae; gastral terga with sparse erect setae; general body color uniformly dark brown.

Type Material

Longino (2007) - Syntype workers: Costa Rica, Buenos Aires (Pittier) Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève (examined).

The types of A. patruelis were sent to Forel by Wheeler, and Wheeler (1942:15) provided additional notes on the specimens. They were sent to Wheeler by C. H. Tyler Townsend, who collected them near Cualata, on the slopes of Volcán de Colima, Mexico, in Cordia alliodora. The ants kept large red lecanoid coccids in the nest.

References

  • Forel, A. 1899h. Formicidae. [part]. Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 105-136 (page 120, pl. 4, fig. 16 worker described)
  • Longino, J. T. 1996. Taxonomic characterization of some live-stem inhabiting Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica, with special reference to the ants of Cordia (Boraginaceae) and Triplaris (Polygonaceae). J. Hym. Res. 5: 131-156 (page 144, Senior synonym of emarginatisquamis)
  • Longino, J.T. 2007. A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group. Zootaxa. 1491:1-63. PDF
  • Menozzi, C. 1927d. Formiche raccolte dal Sig. H. Schmidt nei dintorni di San José di Costa Rica (Schluss). Entomol. Mitt. 16: 336-345 (page 337, queen, male described)
  • Pringle, E.G., Ramirez, S.R., Bonebrake, T.C., Gordon, D.M. & Dirzo, R. 2012. Diversification and phylogeographic structure in widespread Azteca plant-ants from the northern Neotropics. Molecular Ecology 21, 3576–3592.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1942. Studies of Neotropical ant-plants and their ants. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 90: 1-262 (page 237, see also)