Ponera taylori

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Ponera taylori
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. taylori
Binomial name
Ponera taylori
Bharti & Wachkoo, 2012

Ponera taylori P antweb1008012.jpg

Ponera taylori D antweb1008012.jpg

Holotype Specimen Label

Ponera taylori seems to be rare in the Shivalik range of Northwest Himalaya and was collected from three non-forested areas of the region each with a water body. The species was found along the edges of water body, twice under the large stones and once in soil sample.

Identification

Ponera taylori lacks posteroventral teeth of subpetiolar process, a character shared only by 2 Oriental species of Ponera: Ponera nangongshana from China and Ponera yuhuang from Taiwan. However, it is a blind species with reddish yellow colour, what well differentiates it from the latter which possess eyes and are brown in colour. P. taylori, further differentiates from P. nangongshana by the following combination of characters: apex of scape reaches occipital margin; antennal club 5 segmented; mandible possess 7 teeth with anterior margin of clypeus concave while in latter apex of scape fails to reach occipital margin; mandible with 3 enlarged apical teeth followed by a series of minute denticles and convex anterior margin of clypeus. P. taylori additionally separates from P. yuhuang by undifferentiated antennal club while in latter antennal club is 4 segmented; scapes in P. yuhuang also fail to reach the posterior margin of head. Morphometrically, P. taylori is a relatively larger species than P. yuhuang with HL 600–670; HW 560–610 and SL 430–460 whilst latter has HL 490; HW 400 and SL 330.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Known from the Shivalik range of Northwest Himalaya.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Oriental Region: India (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.

  • taylori. Ponera taylori Bharti & Wachkoo, 2012: 221, figs. 7-12 (w.m.) INDIA.

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

Description

Worker

Morphometric data of the holotype: HL 670; HW 610; HS 640; SL 450; PrW 390; WL 850; PL 170; PW 240; PH 380. Indices: CI 0.910; SI 0.738; PNI 0.615; LPI 0.447; DPI 1.412.

Head: Head longer than broad, sides convex, frontovertextal margin concave. Mandible with 7 teeth, occupying the entire masticatory margin. Eyes absent. Median portion of anterior clypeal margin concave. Apex of scape, when laid straight back from its insertion in full-face view touches the midpoint of the posterior margin; funiculus incrassate towards apex but slender than in P. indica, antennal club not differentiated.

Mesosoma and petiole: In lateral view mesosoma with convex dorsal margin; in dorsal view sutures distinct; pro-mesonotal suture with concentric horizontal striations; metanotal groove prominent. Propodeal dorsum, with subparallel sides, passes into a convex declivity. Seen from above petiole subrectangular, distinctly broader than long, with sides diverging backward; in lateral view sloping behind. Subpetiolar process triangular; fenestra round; posteroventral teeth of subpetiolar process absent.

Gaster: base of cinctus of second gastral tergite with cross ribs; sting exerted.

Sculpture: Head capsule sharply reticulate punctuate; dorsal mesosomal sculpturing consists of punctures restricted mainly to sides. Petiole and gaster with superficial punctures, obviously much less strongly and densely sculptured than rest of the body. Mandible microreticulate at base with scattered punctures.

Pilosity: Dense; reclinate, suberect.

Colour: Reddish yellow; anterior margin of head and mandibular margins brown.

Male

Morphometric data: HL 580; HW 480; HS 530; WL 1070; PL 190; PW 260; PH 300; SL 90.

Indices: CI 0.828; SI 0.188; LPI 0.633; DPI 1.263; OI 0.56 (n = 1).

Head almost as broad as long, including the large compound eyes. Mandible reduced, triangular, without any dentition, apex simple and acute; basal cavity visible in full-face view. Antenna filiform, 13 segmented, antennal scrobe absent. Clypeus convex, its median portion entire without any emargination.

Notauli absent. Mesepimeron bearing distinct epimeral lobe. Jugal lobe of hind wing absent. Petiolar node in general shape as in worker, but more slender. Apical margin of abdominal tergum VIII projecting into sharp spine. Claws simple. Terminal abdominal sclerites and genitalia conforming to general plan for genus.

Sculpture much reduced, than that of workers. Head brown, eyes black; gaster reddish yellow, rest of body yellow.

Type Material

Holotype worker – India, Himachal Pradesh, Andretta, 32.0744°N 76.5856°E, 940 m, 11 June, 2010, hand picking. Paratypes: 4 workers same data; 2 workers, India, Uttarakhand, Assan Barrage 30.4417°N 77.6754°E, 740 m, 10 May, 2009, soil core; 5 workers and 1 male, India, Himachal Pradesh, Rewalsar, 31.6345°N 76.8343°E, 1360 m, 30 June, 2010, hand picking (coll. Aijaz A. Wachkoo).

Holotype and paratypes of both the species have been deposited in PUPAC, Punjabi University Patiala Ant Collection, Patiala. One paratype of both species will be deposited in The Natural History Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

Etymology

The species is dedicated to Robert W. Taylor.

References

  • Bharti, H. & Wachkoo, A.A. 2012. First verified record of genus Ponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from India, with description of two new species. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 58, 217–224.
  • Taylor, R. W. 1967. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pacific Insects Monograph, 13: 1–112. PDF