Pseudoponera

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Pseudoponera
Pseudoponera stigma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Alliance: Ponera genus group
Genus: Pseudoponera
Emery, 1900
Type species
Ponera quadridentata (junior synonym of Pseudoponera stigma)
Diversity
6 species
(Species Checklist)

Pachycondyla stigma casent0178180 profile 1.jpg

Pachycondyla stigma casent0178180 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Synonyms

Pseudoponera species are small to medium-sized and found in tropical regions of the Americas and from China south to Australia. The genus currently contains 6 species.

Identification

Schmidt and Shattuck (2014) - Workers of Pseudoponera lack any obvious autapomorphies and superficially resemble those of a number of other genera, including Austroponera, Cryptopone, Euponera, Hypoponera, Mesoponera and Rasopone. Separation from these and other genera of the Ponerinae is based on the following set of characters: compound eyes present, mandible with a basal groove (occasionally weakly developed) but no pit, ventral apex of the metatibia with one pectinate and one simple spur, mesosomal profile nearly continuous but interrupted by a shallowly impressed metanotal groove, propodeal spiracle slit-shaped, subpetiolar process without an anterior fenestra and prora present on the anterior margin of the first gastral sternite. Pseudoponera is morphologically most similar to Austroponera and some species of Euponera. It can be separated from Austroponera by the presence of slit-shaped propodeal spiracles (they are round in Austroponera) and from Euponera by the lack of a basal mandibular pit. Pseudoponera is also similar to Cryptopone, but differs from it in having eyes, lacking a basal pit on the mandibles, and lacking mesotibial traction setae. Pseudoponera workers also strongly resemble those of Hypoponera, but have two metatibial spurs instead of one, generally have wider heads, and tend to be slightly larger. Pseudoponera is similar to Mesoponera but is generally smaller, with denser pilosity, smaller eyes, larger frontal lobes, a wider head, and a broader propodeal dorsum. Workers of Pseudoponera could also conceivably be confused with those of Brachyponera, but these genera differ in their metanotal groove structure (reduced to a suture in Pseudoponera but deeply impressed in Brachyponera), and Pseudoponera lacks the basal mandibular pits of Brachyponera. Finally, Pseudoponera can be separated from Rasopone by the presence of a basal mandibular groove (occasionally weakly developed) and a slit-shaped rather than round or oval propodeal spiracle.

Keys including this Genus

Distribution

The majority of species included here in Pseudoponera are Neotropical with a single species occurring in eastern Australia. One species, Pseudoponera stigma, is widespread in both the Neotropics and the Asia Pacific (Wetterer, 2012a). It is generally accepted that this is a New World species which has become established in Asia through dispersal by humans. However, Wetterer (2012) points out that there is little direct evidence to support this and the biology of this species is not typical of invasive ants. (Schmidt and Shattuck 2014)

World distribution based on political regions. View/Edit Data
Pseudoponera Distribution.png Worlddistribution legend.jpg

Species richness

Species richness by country based on regional taxon lists (countries with darker colours are more species-rich). View Data

Pseudoponera Species Richness.png

Biology

Schmidt and Shattuck (2014) - Very little is known about the Ecology and Behavior of Pseudoponera, and the heterogeneous nature of the genus as defined here casts more doubt than usual on any attempt to extrapolate from observations of single species or species groups to the genus as a whole. On the other hand, the taxa placed here in Pseudoponera all share a small body size and apparently cryptobiotic habits, and most of them are probably generalist predators and scavengers. Below are a few brief notes on observations of individual species.

The type species of the genus, Pseudoponera stigma, is a versatile and adaptable species which can apparently utilize a wide range of habitats and nesting sites (Longino, 2013; Wetterer, 2012a). Wilson (1958c) reported that in New Guinea this species is forest-dwelling, nests under the bark of rotting logs, forages singly, has a diffuse nest structure, and has independent colony foundation. Wild (2002) reported that P. stigma in Paraguay nests in rotting wood and forages in leaf litter, while in Costa Rica the small colonies of this species have been found from the ground layer up to the canopy (Longino, 2013). Oliveira et al. (1998) reported on a colony of P. stigma in Brazil which contained 80 workers and was nesting in a rotting log. This colony had multiple dealate queens, but only one of them was mated and succeeded in egg laying. Workers appeared to police egg laying by the other queens. While it is generally accepted that P. stigma is a tramp species distributed by human action, especially in eastern Asia and the Pacific, there seems little biological data to support this position and Wetterer (2012a) questioned where this was truly the case. Longino (2013) provided observations of other Pseudoponera species in Costa Rica, noting that Pseudoponera succedanea is typically found in leaf litter and under wood on the ground, while Pseudoponera cognata apparently nests in dead wood at ground level or even arboreally.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • PSEUDOPONERA [Ponerinae: Ponerini]
    • Pseudoponera Emery, 1900c: 314 [as subgenus of Pachycondyla]. Type-species: Ponera quadridentata (junior synonym of Formica stigma), by monotypy.
    • [Pseudoponera also described as new by Emery, 1901a: 42. Type-species not Ponera amblyops, unjustified subsequent designation by Emery, 1901a: 42; repeated in Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 171, Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 779 and Donisthorpe, 1943g: 723.]
    • Pseudoponera subgenus of Pachycondyla: Emery, 1900c: 314; Emery, 1901a: 42.
    • Pseudoponera subgenus of Euponera: Forel, 1901c: 141; Forel, 1901g: 398; Emery, 1909c: 364.
    • Pseudoponera raised to genus: Bingham, 1903: 91; Emery, 1911d: 86; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 649; Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 205.
    • Pseudoponera senior synonym of Trachymesopus (because of synonymous type-species): Bolton, 1995b: 45.
    • Pseudoponera junior synonym of Pachycondyla: Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990: 11; Brown, in Bolton, 1994: 164.
    • Pseudoponera revived from synonymy: Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 205.
  • TRACHYMESOPUS [junior synonym of Pseudoponera]
    • Trachymesopus Emery, 1911d: 84 [as subgenus of Euponera]. Type-species: Formica stigma, by original designation.
    • Trachymesopus raised to genus: Wilson, 1958d: 352.
    • Trachymesopus junior synonym of Pachycondyla: Snelling, R.R. 1981: 389; Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990: 11; Brown, in Bolton, 1994: 164.
    • Trachymesopus junior synonym of Pseudoponera: Bolton, 1995b: 48 (because of synonymous type-species); Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 205.
    • [Trachyponera: incorrect subsequent spelling by Santschi, 1928a: 43.]

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

Description

Schmidt and Shattuck (2014):

Worker

Medium-sized (TL 3.25–5.5 mm) ants with the standard characters of Ponerini. Mandibles triangular, with roughly five to ten teeth and a basal groove (pit absent or obsolete). Anterior margin of clypeus broadly convex. Frontal lobes moderately large and closely approximated. Scapes flattened basally. Eyes very small to small (2-4 facets in diameter), located far anterior on sides of head. Mesopleuron entire. Metanotal groove present as a shallow impression. Metapleural gland orifice orifice without a posterior U-shaped cuticular lip. Propodeum generally narrowing dorsally (more strongly narrowed anteriorly) and with a distinct dorsal face. Propodeal spiracles elongate and slit-like. Metatibial spur formula (1s, 1p). Petiole generally scale-like, rounded dorsally. Gaster with a strong girdling constriction between pre- and postsclerites of A4, stridulatory organ absent. Head and body finely punctate, sometimes with light striations on the sides of the mesosoma, and with abundant pilosity and dense pubescence. Color variable, generally dark brown to ferrugineous.

Queen

Similar to worker but slightly larger, alate, with ocelli and larger compound eyes, and with the modifications of the thoracic sclerites that are typical of alate ponerine queens.

Male

Emery (1911) provided a Diagnosis for Pseudoponera males, but he circumscribed the genus differently than it is here and some aspects of his Diagnosis may no longer apply. Ogata (1987) provided a description for males of Trachymesopus, which is synonymous with our definition of Pseudoponera (s.s.), but he included Parvaponera darwinii, which we place in a separate genus.

Larva

Described for various species by Wheeler & Wheeler (1952, 1971a, 1976).

References

  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 382, Pseudoponera in Pachycondylinae, Pachycondylini; Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Bingham, C. T. 1903. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Hymenoptera, Vol. II. Ants and Cuckoo-wasps. London: Taylor and Francis, 506 pp. (page 91, Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. (page 164, Pseudoponera as junior synonym of Pachycondyla)
  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 45, Pseudoponera senior synonym of Trachymesopus (because of synonymous type-species))
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 167, Pseudoponera as junior synonym of Pachycondyla [Type-species not Ponera amblyops, unjustified subsequent designation by Emery, 1901a: 42])
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1973b. A comparison of the Hylean and Congo-West African rain forest ant faunas. Pp. 161-185 in: Meggers, B. J., Ayensu, E. S., Duckworth, W. D. (eds.) Tropical forest ecosystems in Africa and South America: a comparative review. Wash (page 184, Pseudoponera as junior synonym of Pachycondyla (provisional))
  • Chapman, J. W.; Capco, S. R. 1951. Check list of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Asia. Monogr. Inst. Sci. Technol. Manila 1: 1-327 (page 74, Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943h. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [concl.]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 721-737 (page 722, Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Emery, C. 1900b. Formicidarum species novae vel minus cognitae in collectione Musaei Nationalis Hungarici quas in Nova-Guinea, colonia germanica, collegit L. Biró. Publicatio secunda. Természetr. Füz. 23: 310-338 (page 314, Pseudoponera as subgenus of Pachycondyla)
  • Emery, C. 1901b. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponérines (Famille des Formicides). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 32-54 (page 42, Pseudoponera also described as new; Pseudoponera as subgenus of Pachycondyla [Type-species not Ponera amblyops, unjustified subsequent designation by Emery, 1901a: 42; repeated in Donisthorpe, 1943g: 723.] )
  • Emery, C. 1909d. Beiträge zur Monographie der Formiciden des paläarktischen Faunengebietes. (Hym.) Teil VIII. Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1909: 355-376 (page 364, Pseudoponera as subgenus of Euponera)
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 86, Pseudoponera in Ponerinae, Ponerini [subtribe Pachycondylini]; Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Forel, A. 1901d. I. Fourmis mexicaines récoltées par M. le professeur W.-M. Wheeler. II. A propos de la classification des fourmis. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 123-141 (page 141, Pseudoponera as subgenus of Euponera)
  • Forel, A. 1901l. Fourmis termitophages, Lestobiose, Atta tardigrada, sous-genres d'Euponera. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 389-398 (page 398, Pseudoponera as subgenus of Euponera)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 238, Pseudoponera in Ponerinae, Ponerini; Pseudoponera as genus)
  • Hölldobler, B.; Wilson, E. O. 1990. The ants. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, xii + 732 pp. (page 11, Pseudoponera as junior synonym of Pachycondyla )
  • Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, S.O. 2014. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a review of ponerine ecology and behavior. Zootaxa. 3817, 1–242 (doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3817.1.1)
  • Snelling, R. R. 1981. Systematics of social Hymenoptera. Pp. 369-453 in: Hermann, H. R. (ed.) Social insects. Volume 2. New York: Academic Press, xiii + 491 pp. (page 389, Pseudoponera as junior synonym of Pachycondyla )
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 135, Pseudoponera as subgenus of Euponera)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 649, Pseudoponera as genus)