Nothing is known about the biology of Cardiocondyla luciae.
This species is distinguished from all other Afrotropical Cardiocondyla for its combination of dark colour, shagreened gaster, slender body and nearly flat dorsum of the alitrunk. (Rigato 2002)
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Little is known about Cardiocondyla luciae. Until further studies reveal more about this species we can infer that its natural history and biology is likely similar to other members of the genus. Seifert revised the holarctic species of Cardiocondyla in 2003 and the following synopsis is based on his excellent treatment of the genus. References to other publications and more details about what is reported here can be found in Seifert (2003).
Many Cardiocondyla species inhabit areas that experience frequent disturbance and/or are quite open. These may be human altered areas, where a number of Cardiocondyla tramp species thrive, but also natural areas such as semi deserts and steppes, immature soils at rivers, lakes, and sea shores and to a lesser extent forest margins or burned-down woodland patches. In contrast to this open-land group, the natural habitat affinities of many tropical species are primary rain forests.
Nests are typically in soil and sometimes under stones. Two species are known to nest in vegetation but this is unusual for the genus. The single nest entrances is small (1-1.5 mm) and inconspicuous. In the desert nests can be relatively deep (> 1m) and have many chambers but in areas where conditions are less extreme there is generally a single chamber (15-20 mm diameter and 3-4 mm height) that is not far below the ground surface (2-15 cm).
Cardiocondyla tramp species (Cardiocondyla wroughtonii, Cardiocondyla obscurior, Cardiocondyla mauritanica, Cardiocondyla emeryi and Cardiocondyla minutior) are known to be polygynous, as are some less widespread species, while other species are known to be monogynous.
Cardiocondyla ants are omnivorous. Zoophagy (zoo necrophagy and killing of small weakly sclerotised arthropods), granivory, and nectarivory have also been noted. Tandem running has been observed as a method of recruitment to food sources in a few species.
Intranidal mating appears to be the norm for most species in the genus. Mating strategies are species dependent and may take various forms. Winged males may mate within their nest or fly to and enter other colonies to mate. Queen mate intranidally and fly from their nest to begin a new colony, become integrated into their natal colony, or may walk away from their nest and establish a new colony nearby.
Cardiocondyla are unusual in having peculiar male forms. Male polymorphism is found in some species with typical males and an ergatoid form. These latter males are wingless and worker like in appearance. Ergatoid males fight with other males within their natal nest. By killing potential rival males, a dominant male can monopolize matings with the virgin queens in their colony. Morphological modifications that enhance the fighting abilities of ergatoid males have been documented, e.g., modified mandibles well suited to fighting and increased mesosomal size for better protection against attacks from rivals. Another unusual characteristic of ergatoid males is the continuation of spermatogenesis throughout their adult life. Males of most aculeate hymenoptera stop producing sperm once they are fully mature.
Some species are known to produce different queen morphs. This presumably facilitates there being a longer range dispersal queen form and a shorter or non-dispersing form. Gyne polymorphism appears to be an adaptation for species inhabiting continental desert or semi-desert habitats. The cosmopolitan tramp species, on the other hand, do not exhibit this gyne polymorphism.
Only known from the worker caste.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- luciae. Cardiocondyla luciae Rigato, 2002: 169, figs. 4, 5 (w.) TANZANIA.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Holotype. TL 2.1, HL 0.50, HW 0.39, CI 78, SL 0.35, SI 90, PW 0.26, AL 0.58.
A dark and slender species. In full face view head elongate, with almost parallel sides, clypeal lobe anteriorly straight, occiput notched in the middle. Maximum eye diameter 0.13 mm (14 ommatidia in the longest row). Scapes moderately long. With the alitrunk in profile the dorsal and anterior faces of the pronotum meeting at a distinct, blunt angle. Promesonotum almost flat, about at the same level of the weakly convex propodeal dorsum, metanotal groove wide and shallow. In dorsal view the pronotum has slightly angular humeri, and promesonotal sides clearly convergent toward the metanotal groove. Propodeum armed with two short teeth, wide at the base. Petiole in profile with a rounded domed node; in dorsal view the node appears somewhat drop-shaped and a little longer than wide; in posterior view its apex is blunt conical. Subpetiolar process poorly developed. In dorsal view, postpetiole nearly twice as wide as the petiole, a little wider than long and slightly narrower in front than behind.
Mandibles longitudinally striolate punctate, slightly shining. Dorsum of head shagreened, finely and regularly punctate; frons finely longitudinally striolate. Promesonotal dorsum shagreened and finely punctate, but with less distinct punctures. Sides of the alitrunk, propodeum and sides of the petiole mostly finely reticulate punctate. Dorsum of petiolar node and postpetiole shagreened; the former hardly shining. Gaster dorsally finely shagreened, matt and with a silky appearance.
Erect hairs present only on the anterior border of the clypeal lobe and at the tip of the gaster. Appressed pubescence well developed on the body and appendages, conspicuous on the head and especially on the gaster. On the first gastral tergite the pubescence is fairly abundant and a little denser than in C. longinoda (see above).
Colour reddish brown, gaster duller; antennae with a darkened club.
Holotype worker: TANZANIA: Tarangire Nat. Park, Loborserit, xi-1998 (C. Polidori & L. Benaglio) Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Milano.
A noun in the genitive case; this species is dedicated to Lucia Benaglio who collected the single specimen described.