Cataulacus taylori

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Cataulacus taylori
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Cataulacus
Species: C. taylori
Binomial name
Cataulacus taylori
Bolton, 1982

Cataulacus taylori casent0900263 p 1 high.jpg

Cataulacus taylori casent0900263 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Nothing is known about the biology of Cataulacus taylori.

Identification

A member of the tenuis group.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Nigeria (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Much of the information concerning the biology of Cataulacus species is anecdotal and fragmentary. Arnold (1917) wrote a succinct general overview of Cataulacus biology that still remains quite informative. Arnold reports "all the species of this genus are tree-ants, usually forming medium sized nests in hollow twigs and stems, or more rarely, under the bark. They are timid and slow-moving insects, often feigning death or dropping rapidly to the ground when disturbed. As Bingham has remarked in connection with this genus (Fauna Brit. India, Formicidae), these ants have the habit of wandering over the trunks of trees and the leaves in what appears to be a very aimless and languid manner. I have occasionally seen them breaking open the earthen tunnels constructed by termites over the trunks of trees and attack the inmates."

Bolton (1974) expands upon this earlier account - "All known Cataulacus species are arboreal or subarboreal nesters and they predominantly forage on the trees and shrubs in which the nests are situated. Very few appear to come down to ground level but in West Africa the small species Cataulacus pygmaeus and Cataulacus brevisetosus may be found foraging in leaf litter or crossing the ground to ascend a tree other than the one in which the nest is situated. The nests themselves are usually constructed in small hollow twigs or stems by the smaller species and in rotten branches or rotted portions of the tree trunk by the larger species. This is rather a generalization as some small species are known which nest in and under rotten bark (e.g. Cataulacus vorticus) and undoubtedly some of the larger forms will eventually be found inhabiting relatively small cavities in plants.

Various species of the genus in Africa are known to inhabit a variety of galls, acacias and bushes as well as large trees. Numerous species have been found nesting in, and have therefore been often collected from, cocoa in Africa. Some of these species are Cataulacus guineensis, Cataulacus pygmaeus, Cataulacus mocquerysi, Cataulacus egenus, Cataulacus vorticus, Cataulacus brevisetosus, Cataulacus kohli and Cataulacus theobromicola. Feeding habits in the genus are mostly unknown but the present author has noted C. guineensis tending aphids and small coccids.

On the plants ants of the genus Cataulacus often occur together with Oecophylla or species of Crematogaster, and appear to be mostly tolerated (at least they are not evicted) by the majority of these forms. Their defence against attackers of these genera lies primarily in their armoured exterior, but their ultimate escape reaction is to curl up and release their grip on the plant, falling to the ground and thus making their escape. The decision to remain immobile and present an armoured surface or to drop from the plant appears to depend upon the size or persistence of the aggressor; larger attackers usually precipitate the latter reaction, but it has also been noted as a result of persistent and unwanted attention by a series of workers of a small Crematogaster species.

The majority of species are forest-dwelling forms, with relatively few adapted to savannah or veldt conditions. Those which do, however, occur in these zones tend to be very successful in their chosen habitat and often possess a wide distribution. A few species are apparently able to exist in any region of Africa providing the basic essentials of nesting-site and food supply are met with, but on the whole the fauna may be divided into forest and non-forest forms."

Some species have nests that can be protected by a single worker's head, as its shape matches the nest entrance and forms an effective plug.

It has more recently been discovered that some species of Cataulacus are efficient gliders (Cataulacus erinaceus, Cataulacus guineensis, Cataulacus mocquerysi and Cataulacus tardus). Workers exhibit directed movement while in freefall that allows them to glide back to regain a hold on the same tree trunk. (Yanoviak et al. 2005, 2007, 2008)

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • taylori. Cataulacus taylori Bolton, 1982: 364 (w.) NIGERIA.

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

Description

Worker

Holotype. TL 3.2, HL 0.82, HW 0.76, CI 93, EL 0.42, OI 55, SL 0.44, SI 58, PW 0.60, AL 0.90.

With the head in full-face view the sides behind the eyes denticulate, ending in a tooth at the occipital corner. Occipital crest absent, the dorsum rounding evenly into the occiput; the occipital margin unarmed except for a smaller tooth close to the one at the corner. Eyes relatively large, OI > 50. With the alitrunk in profile the highest point of the dorsum at about the midlength of the pronotum. In front of this the dorsum slopes down to the cervical shield and a few scattered minute peaks occur on the outline. Behind the highest point the dorsum is shallowly convex and slopes evenly downwards towards the bases of the propodeal spines. Mesokatepisternal tooth developed. Metapleural lobes low and rounded. Propodeal spines in profile narrow, slightly downcurved along their length. Alitrunk in dorsal view with the pronotal corners denticulate, the lateral margins of the pronotum with 6-7 projecting triangular denticles. Sides of mesonotum and propodeum each with a single projecting denticle, the latter also with the sides convex at the site of the spiracle. Propodeal spines narrow and evenly divergent in dorsal view. Petiole in profile rising to a sharp peak above. Subpetiolar process complex, with a narrow rounded projecting blunt anteroventral angle and a spur-like posteroventral angle, the ventral surface between the two angles strongly concave. Postpetiole node with dorsal surface denticulate, the ventral process narrow and digitiform. Dorsum of head feebly reticulate-rugulose, the rugulae very weak, fine, low and rounded, the reticular meshes mostly incomplete and irregular in shape and size. Ground-sculpture in the meshes almost completely effaced, the surface glossy. Dorsal alitrunk predominantly longitudinally rugose, with some anastomoses on the pronotum but behind this the rugae straight and parallel, quite broad and without cross-meshes. Spaces between the rugae glossy and almost smooth, with only the faintest vestiges of ground-sculpture. Rugae on declivity between bases of spines transverse. Petiole and postpetiole longitudinally rugose, the rugae converging posteriorly. First gastral tergite shiny, with superficial fine reticulate-puntulate sculpture everywhere and with a weak pattern of very fine longitudinal irregular rugulae. Stronger longitudinal rugulae present on the basal one-fifth of the tergite. First gastral sternite similarly but even more delicately sculptured. Dorsum of head with numerous short stout straight cylindrical hairs which are blunt apically. All remaining dorsal surfaces of body with similar pilosity, the longest hairs occurring on the base of the first gastral tergite where they are slightly recurved. Colour uniform glossy jet black; the scapes, tibiae and tarsi dull yellow.

Paratype. TL 3.5, HL 0.88, HW 0.81, CI 92, EL 0.45, OI 56, SL 0.46, SI 57, PW 0.67, AL 0.96.

As holotype but slightly larger, its subpostpetiolar process shorter and broader than in the holotype. The rugae on the dorsal alitrunk not running straight back as in the holotype but slightly skewed to the left posteriorly.

Type Material

Holotype worker, Nigeria: Gambari, CRIN, 24.v.1976, black pod project (B. Taylor) (The Natural History Museum). Paratype. Nigeria: 1 worker, Onipe, CRIN, 25.vii.1975, black pod project (B. Taylor) (BMNH).

References