Ponera taipingensis

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Ponera taipingensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. taipingensis
Binomial name
Ponera taipingensis
Forel, 1913

Ponera taipingensis P casent0249233.jpg

Ponera taipingensis D casent0249233.jpg

Specimen Label

Known only from the type material, which was collected from a "rotting branch."

Identification

Taylor (1967) - The nominate species of the taipingensis group. Workers differ from those of the related Ponera syscena and Ponera colaensis in possessing a distinct median clypeal tooth. Additionally colaensis has a narrower head (cephalic index 81-83 as opposed to 84-86 in taipingensis), and wider petiolar node (petiolar node index 88-91 against 84-85); and syscena has a much narrower node (PNI 79-82). The 4th member of its complex, Ponera loi, has a distinct clypeal tooth, but the cephalic and petiolar node indices have quite different ranges from those of taipingensis (CI 79-83, PNI 78-82), and the ranges of petiole height measurements differ between the 2 species (PH 0.39-0.44 mm in loi, 0.45-0.47 mm in taipingensis).

This species is distinguished from the only other known Malayan Ponera (Ponera japonica) by its larger size (HW 0.52-0.54 mm against 0.43 mm), longer scapes - those of Malayan japonica specimens clearly fail to attain the occipital border which is reached by the scapes in taipingensis - and thicker petiolar node, forming an almost exact half-circle in dorsal view.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Malaysia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Little is known about the biology of Ponera taipingensis.

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

Immature stages and sexuals unknown.

Nomenclature

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

  • taipingensis. Ponera taipingensis Forel, 1913k: 12 (w.) WEST MALAYSIA. See also: Taylor, 1967a: 56.

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

Description

Worker

Taylor 1967 Ponera fig 43-54

Taylor (1967) - Syntypes. The following notes are based on 2 syntype workers kindly loaned from the Forel collection by Dr C. Besuchet. One of these is here designated as lectotype and has been so labeled. Dimensions (lectotype cited first): HL 0.64 mm, 0.60 mm; HW 0.54 mm, 0.52 mm; SL 0.47 mm, 0.45 mm; CI 84, 86; SI 87; PW 0.45 mm, 0.41 mm; PNL 0.23 mm, 0.21 mm; PH 0.47 mm, 0.45 mm; DPW 0.38 mm, 0.35 mm; PNI 84, 85. General features as in fig. 43-45. Mandibles with 3 large teeth occupying slightly less than apical 1 /2 of masticatory border, followed by a series of 5 to 7 small regular denticles. Median clypeal tooth well developed. Eyes apparently 1-faceted, situated about 0.77 x distance from lateral occipital border to midpoint of anterior genal border. Scapes almost exactly reaching median occipital border when laid back along head. Funiculus incrassate but lacking a segmentally differentiated club; apical antennomere about as long as 2 preceding together. General form of mesosoma much as in Ponera scabra, mesometanotal suture not distinctly incised dorsally, but represented by a shallow broad transverse convexity. Lateral mesonotal suture almost obliterated. Posterolateral angles of propodeum each marked by a slightly raised carina, forming angles of a little less than 90° when viewed from above. Lateral and declivitous faces of propodeum, viewed from same aspect, almost straight, sides converging slightly anteriorly. Petiolar node as in figs. 44 and 45. Dorsal face, viewed from above forming an almost exact half-circle; posterior border very slightly sinuate, feebly convex in middle, and weakly concave at sides.

Mandibles smooth and shining, clypeus irregularly shagreened, moderately shining. Head opaque, closely covered with moderately large, almost contiguous, punctae, about 0.01 mm in diameter. Occipital area shining, with scattered small punctures. Pronotum moderately shining, finely and closely punctate. Mesonotum with puncturation similar to that of head, but a little more scattered; dorsum of propodeum similarly, but more sparsely punctate — the inter-punctural intervals slightly more than average diameter of punctae. Sides of mesosoma moderately punctate and feebly shining, a little more so on middle of lateral faces of pronotum and propodeum. A somewhat effaced longitudinal striate-rugosity on lower 1/2 of mesepisternum and on mete pi sternal area. Declivitous face of propodeum shining, with traces of an effaced transverse rugosity, much as described above for Ponera chapmani. Sculpture of node and gaster as in chapmani, the almost vertical striation of the posteroventral parts of the sides of the node less distinct, and the punctae of the 1st 2 gastric tergites smaller.

Pilosity sparse, limited to a few fine erect to suberect hairs on mandibles, clypeus, frontal lobes, dorsa of mesosoma and node and entire gaster, where they are relatively very sparse. Pubescence everywhere moderately abundant. Color as described above for P. chapmani.

Type Material

Taylor (1967) - MALAYA: Maxwell's Hill, near Taiping, 1200 m, 2 workers collected from a rotting branch (Buttle-Reepen) Forel collection. (Syntypes examined - Forel coll., Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève).

References

  • Forel, A. 1913l. Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise nach Ostindien ausgeführt im Auftrage der Kgl. Preuss. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin von H. v. Buttel-Reepen. II. Ameisen aus Sumatra, Java, Malacca und Ceylon. Gesammelt von Her (page 12, worker described)
  • Taylor, R. W. 1967a. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr. 13: 1-112 (page 56, see also)