Ponera baka

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Ponera baka
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. baka
Binomial name
Ponera baka
Xu, Z., 2001

The types were collected from a soil sample in seasonal rain forest.

Identification

Close to Ponera chiponensis, but with head as broad in front as in the back. Anterior margin of clypeus without a blunt tooth in the middle. Mandible only with 3 apical teeth. In profile view petiolar node relatively thin, subpetiolar process with small fenestra, anteroventral corner bluntly angled, posteroventral corner only with a small tooth. (Xu 2001)

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: China (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

The general biology of species in the genus was summarized by Taylor (1967): Ponera are small ants that nest in rotting logs in forested areas or under stones in nonforested situations. In the tropical areas specimens are rarely encountered away from rain forest. In temperate areas, however, species may occur in relatively lightly forested areas. This appears to be the case with Ponera japonica, Ponera pennsylvanica and especially with Ponera coarctata. The Australian Ponera leae is essentially limited to rain forest in the northern parts of its range, but further south it may be found in dry, lightly forested areas.

Foraging is probably cryptobiotic, though some New Guinea species have been taken straying on the ground surface. Little information is available concerning feeding. However, most species are probably insectivorous. I have conducted feeding experiments with some of the New Guinea and Samoan species, including Ponera xenagos, Ponera elegantula, Ponera tenuis, Ponera incerta and Ponera woodwardi. These were unsuccessful with the larger species, except elegantula, which accepted moderately large (8-12 mm) campodeid and japygid Diplura. Tenuis and incerta accepted smaller (4-6 mm) campodeids, isotomid and sminthurid Collembola, and small newly hatched spiders (2 mm long). Negative feeding response was obtained with eggs and larvae of various ants, small crushed insects of various orders, and small myriapods. Stray workers were never observed carrying prey, and distinct middens of insect or other remains were not located near nests.

Colonies usually contain about 30 workers. Larvae and pupae are not segregated in most cases, but occasionally aggregations of pupae were observed. These may have included the total brood of the colonies involved. Larvae are attached to the floor or walls of the nest galleries by the glutinous abdominal tubercles described above, and the ants move them high up on the walls or ceilings of artificial nests, if they are flooded. Details of nuptial behavior of pennsylvanica were given by Wheeler (1900), and Haskins & Enzmann (1938). The flights appear to be of a pattern typical for ants, with the alates meeting in the air and mating there or on the ground. Colony foundation is non-claustral and independent in pennsylvanica (Kannowski 1959); judging from my observations this is typical for the genus.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • baka. Ponera baka Xu, 2001a: 57, figs. 22-24 (w.) CHINA.

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

Description

Worker

Xu 2001 Ponera figs 1-15. P baka 10-12

Holotype. TL 1.9, HL 0.43, HW 0.33, CI 76, SL 0.25, SI 77, PW 0.25, AL 0.53, ED 0.03, ML 0.18, PNL 0.15, DPW 0.18. PH 0.25, PNI 70, LPI 60. Head rectangular, distinctly longer than broad. Occipital margin weakly concave, occipital corners bluntly prominent, lateral sides weakly convex. Mandible only with 3 apical teeth, the basal portion of masticatory margin without teeth or, denticles. Anterior margin of clypeus convex and very bluntly angled in the middle. Antennae short, apex of scape reached to 4/5 of the distance from antennal socket to occipital corner. antennal club consisted of the 4 apical segments. Eye with one facet. In profile view dorsum of alitrunk weakly convex, promesonotal suture distinct, metanotal groove only with trace. Dorsum of propodeum longer than declivity, posterodorsal corner of propodeum very bluntly angled. In profile view petiolar node thick, tapering upward, anterior, posterior and dorsal faces straight, anterior face vertical, and formed a right angle with dorsal face, posterior face steeply sloped and formed a more blunter angle with dorsal face. Subpetiolar process with small circular fenestra, anteroventral corner blunt, posteroventral corner with a small tooth. In dorsal view the node trapezoid, narrowed forward, anterior border straight, lateral borders weakly convex, posterior border slightly concave. Gaster slightly constricted between the two basal segments. Mandibles smooth and shining, very sparsely punctured. Head and gaster densely and finely punctured, relatively dim. Alitrunk and petiole abundantly and superficially punctured, relatively shining. Surface of the whole body and appendages with dense decumbent pubescence, erect hairs only present on anterior portion of head and apex of gaster. Body in color yellowish brown.

Type Material

Holotype: worker, No. A97-2990, 840 m, Bakaxiaozhai Villge, Menglun Town, Mengla County, Yunnan Province, 08-XII-1997, collected in a soil sample of seasonal rain forest by Yang Bilun.

The type specimens are deposited in the Insect Collection, Southwest Forestry College, Kunming, Yunnan Province, P.R. China.

References

  • Taylor, R. W. 1967. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pacific Insects Monograph, 13: 1–112. PDF
  • Xu, Z.-H. 2001b. A systematic study on the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of China. Entomotaxonomia 23: 51-60 (page 57, figs. 22-24 worker described)