Ponera shennong

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Ponera shennong
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. shennong
Binomial name
Ponera shennong
Terayama, 2009

Ponera shennong side (www.niaes.affrc.go.jp).jpg

Ponera shennong top (www.niaes.affrc.go.jp).jpg

Specimen labels

The holotype was taken from a Berlese leaf litter sample.

Identification

Easily separated from Taiwanese congeners by the minute body size and yellowish body color.

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Oriental Region: Taiwan (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.

  • shennong. Ponera shennong Terayama, 2009: 112, figs. 55-58 (w.) TAIWAN.

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

Description

Worker

Terayama 2009 figs. 39-64

Holotype. Head long, 1.36 times as long as wide, with very weakly convex dorsal margin and almost straight lateral margins. Antennal scape very short, SI = 77; 2nd to 8th segments short; club thick, consist of 4-segments. Eye lacking.

Alitrunk with flat dorsum; mesometanotal suture distinct on the dorsum; posterolateral corner of propodeum dully angulate. Petiolar node rectangular, with a posterodorsal angle; in dorsal view, dorsal disc thick and trapezoidal, with weakly concave posterior margin. Subpetiolar process with a dull angle at midlength of ventral margin, and without posteroventral teeth.

First and 2nd gastral terga long; 1st segment as long as wide in dorsal view, 2nd segment slightly wider than long.

Measurements (mm) . HL 0.30, HW 0.28, SL 0.21, WL 0.48, PL 0.15, PH 0.18, DPW 0.15, TL 1.5.

Color. Yellowish brown; legs yellow.

Type Material

Holotype. Kending, Pingdong Pref., 28. vii. -2. viii. 1988.

Type depository. NIAES.

Etymology

The specific epithet is the Chinese noun Shennong, which is the name of a Taiwanese god.

References

  • Taylor, R. W. 1967. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pacific Insects Monograph, 13: 1–112. PDF