Cephalotes solidus

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Cephalotes solidus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. solidus
Binomial name
Cephalotes solidus
(Kempf, 1974)

De Andrade 1999 Cephalotes OCR - Copy-188 Cephalotes-solidus.jpg

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes solidus.

Identification

An isolate species representing a clade of its own (solidus clade) for the broad and round vertexal angles, for the humeral angles with a short spine, and for the mesonotum and propodeum unarmed. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

The biology of many Cephalotes species is not known. Ants in this genus are common in the New World tropics and subtropics and are especially abundant and diverse in the canopies of Neotropical forests. The majority of species are arboreal. Species that live in other strata inhabit smaller trees, bushes or grass stems. These noon-arboreal species, due to their accessibility, are among the better studied members of the genus. There are also species that can be found in downed wood but it is likely the wood housed the colony before it fell to the ground. Soil nests are not known for any species nor do most species appear to extensively excavate plant tissue. They nest instead in preformed cavities. Overall, ants in the genus utilize a wide range of plants. Some species are predictable in their plant use but none appear to have evolved specialized mutualisms with particular plant species.

Worker castes typically include two forms, a worker and soldier, but there are a few species that are monomorphic. The larger soldier caste typically has an enlarged head disk. In some species the head of the soldier is very different from the worker while in others these differences are less pronounced. Queens and soldiers tend to share similar head morphology. Soldiers use their heads to plug the nest entrance. This can be very effective in excluding potential intruders. Other morphological differences between the worker castes are present but these differences have not been studied as well as head moprhology.

The behavioral repertoire of Cephalotes varians has been examined in great detail (ethograms from Wilson 1976, Cole 1980 and Cole 1983). Soldiers do little else besides defend the nest. This specialized soldier behavior is presumed to be the norm for most species. An especially interesting behavior occurs when workers are dislodged from trees: they "fly" towards the tree, often grabbing the trunk well above the ground (video).

Mature nest size varies, by species, from less than a hundred to many thousands of workers. Available evidence suggests most species are monogynous. Queens may mate with multiple males.

The proventriculus of the Cephalotes is peculiar relative to other ants. The morphology of the structure suggests it serves as a powerful pump and filter. This does not appear to lead these ants to have a highly specialized diet as most species appear to be general scavengers. Foragers have been observed feeding on carrion, bird feces, extrafloral nectaries and even tending membracids. Pollen feeding has been observed in some species, and this is somewhat specialized for ants, but it is not evident that any species restricts its diet to this resource in any significant way. Evidence for pollen feeding in Cephalotes has accumulated, in part, via finding digested pollen grains seen in infrabucal pellets. It has been suggested that the morphology of the proventriculus is a specialization for processing pollen.

More research examining all aspects of the biology of Cephalotes is needed. Our present understanding of these ants is largely based on species that live in locations other than the forest canopy, which is where Cephalotes are most common and diverse.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • solidus. Zacryptocerus solidus Kempf, 1974a: 73, figs. 3, 4 (w.) BRAZIL. Combination in Cephalotes: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 183.

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

Description

Worker

Total length 5.4 mm; head length 1.49 mm; head width (eyes included) 1.81 mm; interocular width (maximum width of head between upper border of eyes) 1.62 mm; maximum diameter of eyes 0.46 mm; Weber's length of thorax 1.57 mm; maximum width of pronotum 1.35 mm; hind femur length 1.00 mm; petiole width 0.65 mm; sagittal length of gaster 1.75 mm; width of gaster 1.70 mm. Black, tip of mandibles, frontal carinae (in part), tibiae (except fuscous flexor face of mid and hind tibiae), tarsomeres, and anterolateral border of gaster ferruginous; tip of apical funicular segment pale yellowish brown. Integument opaque, finely reticulate-punctate throughout, with superimposed reticulate-rugose macro sculpture which is very distinct posteriorly and postero-laterally on dorsum of head, on cheeks, on dorsum and sides of thorax (the horizontally coarsely costate sides of pronotum excluded) on dorsum of petiole and postpetiole, on apical half of extensor face of all femora, on extensor face of tibiae; the same reticulate-rugose sculpture is slightly more superficial on tergum I of gaster, and vestigial to obsolete on remaining parts of the body and appendages; underside of the gaster laterally finely longitudinally rugose, the rugae curving mesad in front, lacking entirely on disc of sternum I; mandibles longitudinally costate-rugose; declivous face of propodeum coarsely longitudinally costate. Common, pointed erect to suberect hairs abundant on mandibles, shorter and scarcer on funiculus of antennae which also bear dense appressed pubescence. Short, thick, erect andapically blunt setae scarce, on anterior and lateral margin of frontal carinae, above eyes, on tip of lateral pronotal and petiolar and postpetiolar spines, on tip of femora and tibiae. Remaining hairs scalelike, golden, glittering, appressed and mostly canaliculate, abundant on dorsum of head, dorsum and sides of thorax (except the glabrous sides of pronotum), on dorsum of petiole and postpetiole, on apical half of extensor face of femora and on entire extensor face of tibiae, on dorsum of gaster; very dense, masking entirely the integument, on cheeks which appear plated with gold; rare, simple not canaliculate golden hairs on gular face, on sides and flexor face of femora and tibiae and on sternum I of gaster. Laterotergite of pronotum, declivous face of propodeum, and anterior face of petiole, underside of petiole and postpetiole glabrous. Anterior border of clypeus with the usual comb of dense hairs projecting over the mandibles.

Head broader than long, with strongly anteriorly converging frontal carinae. Clypeal suture vestigial. Sides of head scarcely upturncd above eyes. The latter very large, measuring nearly one third of head length, the anterior orbit reaching the middle of head length. Occipital lobes solid, not foliaceous nor platelike, but with sharply carinate border. Cheeks sharply marginate below. Dorsum of head very gently curved longitudinally, nearly straight and flat transversely. Pronotum anteriorly distinctly marginate, the scapular corners distinct, projecting, visible from above, the sides with a strong projecting first tooth, the second tooth at best vestigial, the third entirely absent. Pro meso notal suture distinct but not conspicuous. Mesonotum laterally unarmed and entirely immarginate. Metanotal suture impressed. Basal face of propodeum likewise unarmed and practically immarginate on sides; declivous face slightly excavated on disc, the sides submarginate. Femora, especially hind femora, not slenderly fusiform but compact, the extensor face, seen in profile is strongly convex and almost angulate in the middle. Petiole with an oblique anterior face, noticeably distinct from the dorsal surface, the sides with a prominent, stout denticle. Postpetiole longitudinally flat, transversely convex, the lateral appendages longer, with a subacute tip. Tergum I of gaster anterolaterally with a platelike prominent margin, which is subtransparent but much narrower than the length of the postpetiole, reaching back on sides of gaster to the vestigial dorsal stigma; anterior half of sides of gaster sharply emarginate, posteriorly half rounded.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.26-5.56; HL 1.28-1.32; HW 1.64; EL 0.44-0.45; PW 1.28; PeW 0.56-0.60; PpW 0.60-0.63; HBaL 0.51-0.52; HBaW 0.15-0.16; CI 124.2-137.0; PI 128.1; PPeI 213.3-228.6; PPpI 203.2-213.3; HBaI 29.4-30.7.

Type Material

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Worker. Type locality: Colonia Santo Antonio (Manaus, Brazil). Type material: Holotype (unique) worker labelled: "Manaus, AM, Col. Santo Antonio, II-VI-1971, INPA #16, Holotypus", in Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo (examined).

References

  • de Andrade, M. L.; Baroni Urbani, C. 1999. Diversity and adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Series B (Geolgie and Palaontologie). 271:1-889. (page 183, Combination in Cephalotes)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1974a. Taxonomic and faunistic notes on some Neotropical Cephalotini ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 18: 67-76 (page 73, figs. 3, 4 worker described)