Melophorus longipes

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Melophorus longipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Melophorini
Genus: Melophorus
Species group: biroi
Species complex: fieldi
Species: M. longipes
Binomial name
Melophorus longipes
Heterick, Castalanelli & Shattuck, 2017

Melophorus longipes major side ANIC3-900193.jpg

Melophorus longipes major top ANIC3-900193.jpg

Specimen labels

Evolutionary Relationships
Melophorus


Melophorus ludius species group



Melophorus potteri species group





Melophorus aeneovirens species group




Melophorus biroi species group (biroi species complex)




Melophorus biroi species group (wheeleri species complex)




Melophorus biroi species group (brevignathus species complex)



Melophorus biroi species group (fieldi species complex)







Based on Heterick et al., 2017. Only selected species groups/complexes are included.

Although both M. longipes and M. turneri are often sympatric, most records of M. longipes have come from inland locations well away from the coast. All vegetation records mention mallee, and this is therefore assumed to be the favoured habitat for this species. There are also several records of dunes and one of a salt lake and sand ridge. No data on the behaviour of the ant are available, but it is probably a generalist, given its distribution and morphology. (Heterick et al. 2017)

Identification

Heterick et al. (2017) - Melophorus longipes can be placed in the Melophoprus biroi species-group on the basis of characters of the clypeus, propodeum, mandible and palps. The species is also placed in the Melophoprus fieldi species-complex because of the appearance of the anteriorly placed clypeal psammophore, the compact propodeum, the presence of more than one preapical spine on the metatibia, at least in the major worker, the long, even spindly legs and the unmodified mandible in the major worker. Melophorus longipes can be confused with several very similar and highly derived Melophorus that are also common and widespread, and specimens have to be checked carefully using the following characters before they can be distinguished from Melophorus eumorphus, Melophorus turneri and Melophorus vitreus. Melophorus longipes can be distinguished from M. eumorphus by its larger size (minor worker HW 0.57 mm ≥; major worker HW > 1.50 mm); and less strongly sculptured mesopleuron. In turn, the Melophorus longipes minor workers lack the protuberant clypeus seen in M. vitreus minors, the clypeus being only weakly protuberant and usually with a distinct dimple at its anterior midpoint, are less gracile, have a squamiform petiolar node and do not exhibit the “pillipes” condition (whorls of fine, erect setae on appendages, which is general in M. vitreus). It is with many populations of Melophorus turneri that Melophorus longipes can be most easily confused. However, in M. longipes the metafemur of the minor worker is longer and attenuated towards its junction with the tibia (metafemur ≥ 0.90 × length of mesosoma) compared with the shorter, stouter metafemur in the M. turneri minor (metafemur ≤ 0.75 × length of mesosoma). In profile, the dorsum of the minor worker propodeum is smoothly curved on to its declivitous face in M. longipes whereas there is often a distinct angle in the case of M. turneri. Major workers are more difficult to differentiate. However, the major worker mesonotum in M. longipes is flat to weakly convex versus weakly to moderately convex in M. turneri major workers, the M. longipes major worker metafemur is increasingly depigmented towards its articulation with the tibia, and the tibia is depigmented yellowish-white. The appearance of the major worker metafemur in M. turneri workers seen is always uniform and similar in colour pattern to the tibia, both parts being ochraceous to yellowish.

This species shares with M. turneri and M. vitreus a generally glabrous mesosoma with well-spaced, tiny appressed setae on the first gastral tergite. The ant can readily be separated from M. vitreus by its smaller eye and more squamiform node in the minor worker. In common with many Melophorus, major workers of this species are nondescript and easily mistaken for the majors of M. turneri, the easiest way to distinguish them being the light coloured, depigmented tibia and distal femora when compared with M. turneri major workers (which have tawny yellow or orange limbs). Distinguishing minor and media workers of M. longipes from M. turneri requires examination of the metatibia, which is measurably longer or at least narrower in individuals of the same size within the two species (total range 0.61-1.10 mm in M. longipes compared with 0.61-0.98 mm in M. turneri). In other respects, the two ants are virtually identical.

Distribution

Heterick et al. (2017) - Melophorus longipes records are restricted to SA and WA with just one NT record (50 km E Finke River).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

AntMapLegend.png

Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Castes

Worker

Nomenclature

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

  • longipes. Melophorus longipes Heterick, Castalanelli & Shattuck, 2017: 275, fig. 63 (w.) AUSTRALIA.

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

Description

Worker

(n = 10): CI 105–124; EI 18–33; EL 021–0.30; HL 0.61- 1.38; HW 0.64–1.70; ML 0.87–1.70; MTL 0.62–1.10; PpH 0.11–0.17; PpL 0.36–0.70; SI 69–118; SL 0.75–1.17.

Minor. Head. Head square; posterior margin of head planar or weakly convex; frons shining with superficial shagreenation or microreticulation only; pilosity of frons a mixture of a few well-spaced, erect setae interspersed with appressed setae only; Eye moderate (eye length 0.20–0.49 length of side of head capsule); in full-face view, eyes set at about midpoint of head capsule; in profile, eye set anteriad of midline of head capsule; eyes elliptical or slightly reniform. In full-face view, frontal carinae straight, divergent posteriad; frontal lobes straight in front of antennal insertion. Anteromedial clypeal margin broadly convex with anteromedial clypeal dimple; clypeal psammophore set at or above midpoint of clypeus; palp formula 6,4. Five mandibular teeth in major worker; mandibles triangular, weakly incurved; third mandibular tooth distinctly shorter than apical tooth and tooth numbers two and four; masticatory margin of mandibles vertical or weakly oblique. Mesosoma. Integument of pronotum, mesonotum and mesopleuron with weak to moderate sheen and superficial microreticulation (more pronounced on mesopleuron); anterior mesosoma broadly convex; appearance of erect pronotal setae short, (i.e., longest erect setae shorter than length of eye) and unmodified; in profile, metanotal groove shallow, broadly V- or U-shaped; propodeum matt or with a weak sheen and microreticulate-striolate; propodeum smoothly rounded or with indistinct angle; propodeal dorsum and declivity confluent; erect propodeal setae few in number, may be absent; appressed propodeal setae short, separated by more than own length and inconspicuous; propodeal spiracle situated on or beside declivitous face of propodeum, and shorter (length < 0.50 × height of propodeum). Petiole. In profile, petiolar node squamiform to narrowly conical, vertex bluntly rounded; in full-face view, petiolar node tapered with blunt vertex; node shining and smooth throughout. Gaster. Gaster shining, shagreenate (‘LP record’ appearance); pilosity of first gastral tergite consisting of well-spaced erect and semi-erect setae interspersed with regularly placed appressed setae. General characters. Body tan with a brown gaster and the legs a light tan, becoming pale yellow distally.

Major. Head. Head square; posterior margin of head planar or weakly convex; frons shining with superficial shagreenation or microreticulation only; pilosity of frons a mixture of a few well-spaced, erect setae interspersed with appressed setae only; Eye moderate (eye length 0.20–0.49 length of side of head capsule); in full-face view, eyes set above midpoint of head capsule; in profile, eye set anteriad of midline of head capsule; eyes elliptical or slightly reniform. In full-face view, frontal carinae straight, divergent posteriad; frontal lobes straight in front of antennal insertion. Anteromedial clypeal margin broadly convex with anteromedial clypeal dimple; clypeal psammophore set at or above midpoint of clypeus; palp formula 6,4. Five mandibular teeth in major worker; mandibles triangular, weakly incurved; third mandibular tooth distinctly shorter than apical tooth and tooth numbers two and four; masticatory margin of mandibles vertical or weakly oblique. Mesosoma. Integument of pronotum, mesonotum and mesopleuron with weak to moderate sheen and superficial microreticulation (more pronounced on mesopleuron); anterior mesosoma broadly convex; appearance of erect pronotal setae short, (i.e., longest erect setae shorter than length of eye) and unmodified; in profile, metanotal groove shallow, broadly V- or U-shaped; propodeum matt or with a weak sheen and microreticulate-striolate; propodeum smoothly rounded or with indistinct angle; propodeal dorsum and declivity confluent; erect propodeal setae present and abundant (greater than 12); appressed propodeal setae short, separated by more than own length and inconspicuous; propodeal spiracle situated on or beside declivitous face of propodeum, and shorter (length < 0.50 × height of propodeum). Petiole. In profile, petiolar node squamiform; in full-face view, node uniformly rounded or tapered with blunt vertex; node shining with vestigial sculpture. Gaster. Gaster shining, shagreenate (‘LP record’ appearance); pilosity of first gastral tergite consisting of well-spaced erect and semi-erect setae interspersed with regularly placed appressed setae). General characters. Body tan with a brown gaster and the legs an increasingly pale yellowish, becoming depigmented distally

Type Material

Holotype minor worker (bottom ant) From 10 km from Mt Ive Homestead, South Australia, 22 October 1980, P.J.M. Greenslade, B Se Gawler Ranges, South Australia, 16 (Australian National Insect Collection). Paratypes: 2 major workers on same pin and with same details as holotype (ANIC); 3 major workers from 85 km W Mabel Creek, South Australia, 9 October 1980, P.J.M. Greenslade, Sa EAD; (Top major worker photographed) [ANIC32-900193] (ANIC); major and 2 minor workers from 14 km S by W of Beltana, 30°56'S, 138°23'E South Australia, 14 September 1972, J.E. Feehan, ANIC Ants Vial 16.99 (Museum of Comparative Zoology); major and minor worker from Poochera 32°43'S, 134°50'E, Australia, 10-13.xi.1981, R.W. Taylor and R.J. Bartel, ‘Freightline site’ grassy areas not under trees, ANIC Ants Vial 1.167 (The Natural History Museum); media and minor worker from Vokes Hill, Victoria Desert, South Australia, 2 October 1976, P.J.M. Greenslade, (6) a, 8 (South Australian Museum); 2 majors and a minor worker from 19 miles SE by S of Karonie, 31°12'S, 122°42'E, Western Australia, 9 Nov. 1969, Key’s field notes. Trip 163. Stop 19392.9 (Western Australian Museum); major and minor worker from Woolgangie, Western Australia, 18 September 1988, B. Heterick, soil, native veg., rural environ., 433, 8MelBH7C (WAM).

Etymology

Latin longus (‘long’) plus pes (‘foot’); adjective in the nominative singular.

References