Paltothyreus tarsatus

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Paltothyreus tarsatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Paltothyreus
Species: P. tarsatus
Binomial name
Paltothyreus tarsatus
(Fabricius, 1798)

Pachycondyla tarsata casent0003140 profile 1.jpg

Pachycondyla tarsata casent0003140 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Subspecies
Synonyms

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Paltothyreus tarsatus has volatile material in the venom gland, which includes bitter-tasting cyclic dipeptides (Morgan et al., 2003). Although workers forage individually, workers transfer prey to other workers during the journey back to the nest (López et al., 2000).

At a Glance • Termite specialist  
 

Identification

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Paltothyreus tarsatus can be easily separated from all of the New World species by the angulate anterior lateral corners of the postpetiole and the presence of single small teeth on each of the inner margins of the tarsal claws. The specimen from São Paulo is nearly identical to the typical Old World Paltothyreus tarsatus . It can be differentiated by the form of the surface of the medial lobe of the clypeus (which is completely concave with notable longitudinal striae in most Old World P. tarsatus), smooth surface of the mandible (striate and dull in Old World P. tarsatus), the transverse striae on the mesonotum (longitudinal in most Old World P. tarsatus) and by the smooth and glossy dorsal surface of the gaster (smooth and glossy, but with scattered coarse punctures in most Old World specimens of P. tarsatus). It is probable that this specimen of P. tarsatus is a mislabeled Old World species, but it may also represent a new species.

It is interesting to note that the striae on the dorsum of the pronotum are very similar to those of Pachycondyla magnifica (=Neoponera magnifica). The two species are apparently not closely related and easily separated by the claw on the inner border of the tarsal claw and the angles on the postpetiole of P tarsatus, both of which are absent in P. magnifica.

There are currently a number of subspecies recognized (P. tarsatus delagoensis [Emery], P. tarsatus mediana [Santschi], P. tarsatus robusta [Santschi], P. tarsatus striata [Santschi], P. tarsatus striatidens [Santschi] and P. tarsatus subopaca [Santschi]) and possibly some of these may be recognized as valid species when the Old World fauna is evaluated.

Distribution

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Smith (1858:94) lists P. tarsatus as being a South American species (Demerara, Pará, Brasil). Unfortunately Neoponera commutata was misidentified as P. tarsatus prior to 1860 (Roger, 1860), which may also explain Smith’s report."

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Benin, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal (type locality), Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe.

Distribution based on specimens

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The above specimen data are provided by AntWeb. Please see Paltothyreus tarsatus for further details

Biology

Diame et al. (2015) - An ant diversity study in Senegal orchards found Paltothyreus tarsatus occurred in and preferred high canopy coverage, higher tree diversity and more leaf litter. This was stated to be consistent with this ant's occurrence in natural forest or forest-savannah transition habitats and their foraging in the leaf litter.

Castes

Worker

Queen

Male

Nomenclature

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

  • tarsatus. Formica tarsata Fabricius, 1798: 280 (w.) SENEGAL. Latreille, 1802c: 736 (q.); Mayr, 1866b: 893 (m.). Combination in Paltothyreus: Mayr, 1862: 736; in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 310; in Paltothyreus: Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 127. Senior synonym of gagates, pestilentia, spiniventris: Roger, 1860: 310; Roger, 1863b: 17; of simillima: Emery, 1892d: 557. Current subspecies: nominal plus delagoensis, medianus, robustus, striatidens, striatus, subopacus. See also: Forel, 1891b: 136; Arnold, 1915: 44; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 60; Hölldobler, 1980: 86; Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 545.
  • gagates. Ponera gagates Guérin-Méneville, 1844a: 423 (w.) SENEGAL. Junior synonym of tarsatus: Roger, 1860: 310; Roger, 1863b: 17.
  • pestilentia. Ponera pestilentia Smith, F. 1858b: 92 (w.) SIERRA LEONE. Junior synonym of tarsatus: Roger, 1860: 310.
  • simillima. Pachycondyla simillima Smith, F. 1858b: 105, pl. 7, fig. 17 (q.) SOUTH AFRICA. Combination in Paltothyreus: Mayr, 1886c: 358. Junior synonym of tarsatus: Emery, 1892d: 557.
  • spiniventris. Ponera spiniventris Smith, F. 1858b: 92 (m.) SIERRA LEONE. Junior synonym of tarsatus: Roger, 1860: 310; Roger, 1863b: 17.

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

Description

Worker

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The worker is a moderately large (total length 13 mm) dark reddish brown ant. The mandibles have approximately 18 teeth. The median portion of the clypeus is formed into a broad lobe, which overhangs the remainder of the clypeus. The surface of the lobe has two longitudinal depressions separating three distinct lobes (there are exceptions to this). The head is nearly square, with the length (including the lobe of the clypeus) being 3.1 mm, the width 3.0 mm. The eyes are relatively small (maximum diameter 0.56 mm) located slightly more than one maximum diameter from the anterior margin of the head. The scape is relatively short (2.66 mm), extending about 1½ funicular segments past the posterior lateral corner of the head. The sides of the head are slightly narrowed anteriorly, angulate posteriorly, with the medial posterior margin concave. The mesonotum and propodeum are barely separated on the dorsum of the mesosoma, but the metanotal suture is well developed on the side. The propodeal spiracle is elongated. The petiole is relatively narrow when viewed in profile with a distinctly concave anterior face and a broadly rounded convex posterior face, the faces of which form a poorly defined dorsal face. The subpetiolar process is well developed and consists of a thickened triangular lobe. The anterior upper corners of the postpetiole (first gastral tergum) are swollen and angulate. The stridulatory file is apparently absent (pretergite can not be well seen in the specimen from São Paulo, but the stridulatory file is absent in Old World specimens of P. tarsatus). The dorsum of the pygidium is slightly concave. The arolia are not developed. The tarsal claws have a distinct tooth along in inner medial margin on both sides.

Erect hairs are abundant on the clypeus, especially along the anterior border, as they are on the dorsum of the head, the antennal scapes, the sides of the head, the posterior margin, the ventral surface of the head, the dorsum of the mesosoma, all surfaces of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster; the hairs on the legs are mostly erect, or at least suberect. Appressed pubescence is sparse and noticeable only on the head and the gaster.

The mandibles are smooth and glossy with scattered punctures, the lobe of the clypeus has poorly defined longitudinal striae; the dorsum of the head has well-developed longitudinal striae, which diverge posteriorly. The dorsum of the pronotum has very coarse longitudinal striae, which pass transversely across the pronotum anteriorly and form longitudinal striae on the side the pronotum, the dorsum of the mesonotum has coarse transverse striae as does the dorsum of the propodeum, much of the side of the mesopleuron is smooth and glossy, but the upper region has fine striae, the sides of the propodeum have obliquely directed striae, the petiole is mostly smooth and glossy, but poorly defined striae are present on the sides and transverse striae are present across the dorsum of the node, the gaster is moderately smooth and glossy with scattered punctures.

Queen

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): See the discussion of the tarsatus species complex.

Male

From Mackay and Mackay (2010): See the discussion of the tarsatus species complex.

Type Material

Senegal, Latreille; Sierra Leon; South Africa (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Ponera pestilentia

Holotype worker in The Natural History Museum. Labelled “Sierra Leone.” Data of original description gives D.F. Morgan as collector.

Ponera spiniventris

Male in The Natural History Museum, labelled “Afric. spiniventris Smith.” This is probably the holotype, but the data should be, “Sierra Leone, D.F. Morgan.” Smith stated, “in all probablility this is the male of P. pestilentia.”

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

Etymology

The name of this species is derived from the Greek word tarsos, referring to the sole of the foot, presumably referring to the unusual form of the tarsal claw. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

References

  • Arnold, G. 1915. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part I. Ponerinae, Dorylinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 1-159 (page 44, see also)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1995a. [Untitled. Taxonomic changes in Pachycondyla attributed to Brown.] Pp. 302-311 in: Bolton, B. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 310, combination in Pachycondyla)
  • Diame, L., R. Blatrix, I. Grechi, J. Y. Rey, C. A. B. Sane, J. F. Vayssieres, H. de Bon, and K. Diarra. 2015. Relations between the design and management of Senegalese orchards and ant diversity and community composition. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment. 212:94-105. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2015.07.004
  • Emery, C. 1892f [1891]. Voyage de M. Ch. Alluaud dans le territoire d'Assinie (Afrique occidentale) en juillet et août 1886. Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 60: 553-574 (page 557, Senior synonym of simillima)
  • Fabricius, J. C. 1798. Supplementum entomologiae systematicae. Hafniae [= Copenhagen]: Proft and Storch, 572 pp. (page 280, worker described )
  • Forel, A. 1891c. Les Formicides. [part]. In: Grandidier, A. Histoire physique, naturelle, et politique de Madagascar. Volume XX. Histoire naturelle des Hyménoptères. Deuxième partie (28e fascicule). Paris: Hachette et Cie, v + 237 pp. (page 136, see also)
  • Hölldobler, B. 1980. Canopy orientation: a new kind of orientation in ants. Science (Wash. D. C.) 210: 86-88 (page 86, see also)
  • Ḧolldobler, B. 1984. Communication during foraging and nest-relocation in the African Stink ant, Paltothyreus tarsatus Fabr. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ponerinae). Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie. 65:40–52.
  • Latreille, P. A. 1802a. Histoire naturelle des fourmis, et recueil de mémoires et d'observations sur les abeilles, les araignées, les faucheurs, et autres insectes. Paris: Impr. Crapelet (chez T. Barrois), xvi + 445 pp. (page 736?, queen described)
  • López, F., C. Agbogba and I. Ndiaye. 2000. Prey chain transfer behaviour in the African stink ant Pachycondyla tarsata Fabr. Insectes Sociaux 47:337-342.
  • Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston. Information from this publication is used with permission from the authors.
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 736, Combination in Paltothyreus)
  • Mayr, G. 1866b. Diagnosen neuer und wenig gekannter Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 16: 885-908 (page 893, male described)
  • Morgan, E., H. Jungnickel, S. Keegans, R. do Nascimento, J. Billen, B. Gobin and F. Ito. 2003. Comparative survey of abdominal gland secretions of the ant subfamily Ponerinae. Journal of Chemical Ecology 29:95-114.
  • Roger, J. 1860. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen. Berl. Entomol. Z. 4: 278-312 (page 310, Senior synonym of gagates, pestilenta and spiniventris)
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 17, Senior synonym of gagates, pestilenta and spiniventris)
  • Santschi, F. 1919b. Nouvelles Fourmis du Congo Belge du Musée du Congo Belge, à Tervueren. Revue Zoologique Africaine 7:79-91.
  • Smith, F. 1858. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Muséum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Muséum, 216 pp.
  • Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, S.O. 2014. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a review of ponerine ecology and behavior. Zootaxa. 3817, 1–242 (doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3817.1.1)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922b. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. II. The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 39-269 (page 60, see also)