| Prionopelta laurae|
Overson & Fisher, 2015
This species has been collected in leaf litter primarily in rainforest with some collections from littoral rainforest and one in tropical dry rainforest, at elevations between 10–600 meters. Its range is restricted to eastern Madagascar and is seemingly disjunct, with most individuals collected from the northeast and only two locales known from the southeast near the coast. No individuals have been collected between Sahafina Forest in the north and Mahabo forest in the south, a distance of 500 km. The current range of P. laurae is such that it may once have been distributed along the entire eastern coast of Madagascar. (Overson and Fisher 2015)
Overson and Fisher (2015) - P. laurae is the only Malagasy Prionopelta with workers that possess nine antennal segments (all others possess twelve). Additionally, it is the smallest of all the Malagasy species with HL < 0.4 mm and HW < 0.3 mm (HL and HW of all other species is greater than 0.4 mm and 0.3 mm respectively).
This species of Prionopelta is unmistakable as it is the only Malagasy species with nine antennal segments. It is also the smallest known species of Malagasy Prionopelta and is a distinct pale yellow color, which is much lighter than the fully-sclerotized workers of any other Malagasy species.
Keys including this Species
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
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The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- laurae. Prionopelta laurae Overson & Fisher, 2015: 130, fig. 7 (w.) MADAGASCAR.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
(N=16). HL 0.33–0.38 (0.35); HW 0.24–0.27 (0.26); SL 0.16–0.18 (0.17); WL 0.34–0.4 (0.38); PetL 0.09–0.11 (0.1); PetW 0.13–0.15 (0.14); T1W 0.19–0.23 (0.21); CI 67.55–75.64 (72.71); PI 120.18–152.75 (135.44); SI 61.62–69.05 (65.06).
Head much longer than wide with lowest cephalic index on average of all Malagasy Prionopelta (mean CI 72.71); posterior head margin straight in full-face view; cephalic foveae small and very dense, with no space for additional cephalic foveae present; median cephalic band devoid of foveae is long and thin and appears slightly swollen or raised above the surrounding integument, forming a scarlike suture; apical tooth of the mandible over four times the length of third tooth in full-face view; nine antennal segments; eye greatly reduced, appearing as a tiny, dark gray patch; majority of marks on pronotum are densely spaced, tiny punctures; mesonotum and propodeum consisting of tiny shallow foveae; metanotal groove visible dorsally; smallest of the Prionopelta from Malagasy region; body distinctly pale yellow in color.
Holotype, pinned worker, MADAGASCAR, Antsiranana, Parc National de Marojejy, Manantenina River, 28.0 km 38° NE Andapa, 8.2 km 333° NNW Manantenina, 14.43667°S, 49.775°E, 450 m, rainforest, sifted litter (leaf mold, rotten wood), collection code: BLF08722, 12.xi.2003 (B.L. Fisher et al.) (California Academy of Sciences: CASENT0046149).
Paratypes, nine pinned workers with same data as holotype (The Natural History Museum: CASENT0046153; CASC: CASENT0046141; CASENT0046142; CASENT0046143; CASENT0046147; CASENT0046151; Museum of Comparative Zoology: CASENT0046150; Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève: CASENT0046140; Naturhistorisches Museum Basel: CASENT0046148).
The name of this species is a patronym dedicated to Laura D. Steger for her continual support during the course of this work and her either completely genuine—or expertly feigned—enthusiasm for being endlessly bombarded by information about ants.