Amblyopone australis

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Amblyopone australis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Amblyoponinae
Tribe: Amblyoponini
Genus: Amblyopone
Species: A. australis
Binomial name
Amblyopone australis
Erichson, 1842

Amblyopone australis casent0172267 profile 1.jpg

Amblyopone australis casent0172267 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Amblyopone australis forage and nest in rotten logs.

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  



Keys including this Species


Heterick (2009) - A broad distribution throughout Australia. Within the SWBP, WA, most records come from the Darling Range and near the south coast.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality), Lord Howe Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island.
Indo-Australian Region: New Guinea, Solomon Islands.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Elevation Range

Occurrence at collecting sites during elevational surveys of rainforest in the Eungella region, Queensland, Australia (Burwell et al., 2020).
Species Elevation (m asl)
200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Amblyopone australis 10-20 10-20 30-40 40-50 80-90 90-100
Shading indicates the bands of elevation where species was recorded.
Numbers are the percentage of total samples containing this species.


A. australis feeds on a range of soft-bodied arthropods and nests in logs above ground (Shattuck, 1999; Wheeler 1933)

In the SWBP, WA, nests of A. australis are not uncommon under logs and rocks. This is the Amblyopone most commonly encountered in the hills behind Perth.


Queen–worker dimorphism in body size is very pronounced in A. australis (Peeters & Molet 2010). Workers are polymorphic, and large individuals may be better adapted for digging galleries in rotten logs.

Adults and different stages of brood, showing variations in body size among workers. From Maleny, southern Queensland. Photo by Christian Peeters
Growth of thorax relative to head in A. australis and Stigmatomma pallipes (previously A. pallipes) queens and workers. Worker size variation and queen/worker size dimorphism are much higher in A. australis. From Peeters & Molet (2010)






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

  • australis. Amblyopone australis Erichson, 1842: 261, pl. 5, fig. 7 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Smith, F. 1858b: 109 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 116 (l.); Imai, Crozier & Taylor, 1977: 347 (k.). Senior synonym of laevidens, nana: Wilson, 1958a: 142; of cephalotes (and its junior synonym maculata): Brown, 1958h: 14; of fortis, foveolata, minor, obscura, and material of the unavailable names howensis, norfolkensis, pallens. queenslandica referred here: Brown, 1960a: 167 (these previously provisional synonyms in Brown, 1958h: 13). See also: Taylor, 1979: 835.
  • obscura. Amblyopone obscura Smith, F. 1858b: 109 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA. Clark, 1925b: 138 (m.). Subspecies of australis: Froggatt, 1905: 8; Forel, 1910b: 2; Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 10. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • cephalotes. Amblyopone cephalotes Smith, F. 1876c: 490 (w.) NEW ZEALAND. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 117 (l.). Subspecies of australis and senior synonym of maculata: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 13. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1958h: 14.
  • laevidens. Amblyopone laevidens Emery, 1887b: 447 (w.) NEW GUINEA. Subspecies of australis: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 12. Junior synonym of australis: Wilson, 1958a: 142.
  • fortis. Amblyopone australis var. fortis Forel, 1910b: 1 (w) AUSTRALIA. Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 9 (q.). Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • maculata. Amblyopone cephalotes var. maculata Stitz, 1911a: 351 (w.) NEW ZEALAND. Junior synonym of cephalotes: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 13.
  • nana. Amblyopone nana Emery, 1914f: 394 (w.q.) NEW CALEDONIA. Subspecies of australis Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 16. Junior synonym of australis: Wilson, 1958a: 142.
  • minor. Amblyopone minor Forel, 1915b: 1 (w.q.m.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • foveolata. Amblyopone australis subsp. foveolata Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 9 (w.q.m.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.

Amblyopone australis type material
Lectotype worker (Yoshimura & Fisher, 2012: 3) from Tasmania, Australia, Scheyer (misspelling of Schayer) (Berlin Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität): 7228, CASENT0104575. Two specimens with same locality and collector information; one labeled ‘‘Type.’’ The original description of this species does not include detailed type information; however, Erichson mentions in the same paper that Schayer provided much material from Tasmania. Original labels on this specimen seem to have been replaced by new labels, and the collector on the new label is listed as ‘‘Scheyer,’’ a misspelling of Schayer, the collector’s name.

Amblyopone obscura type material
Syntype worker(s) and queen(s) from Australia (The Natural History Museum).

Amblyopone australis fortis type material
Syntype workers from Kuranda and Cairns, Queensland (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève).

Amblyopone australis minor type material
Syntype workers, queen(s) and male(s) from Tamborine Mt. (as Mt. Tambourine), Queensland (1 worker in Australian National Insect Collection, location of other material uncertain).

Amblyopone australis foveolata type material
Syntype workers, queen and males from Denmark, Western Australia (2 workers, 1 queen and 3 males in Museum of Comparative Zoology).

Type Material

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Amblyopone cephalotes

Holotype worker (presumed) in The Natural History Museum, mounted on card with a pupa. Labelled “Amblyopone cephalotes Smith. N. Zeal.” The specimen matches the original description but there is no datum label that proves it to be the true holotype. The original description states that the holotype was “collected by Mr Lawson at Auckland.”

Amblyopone obscura

One syntype queen in The Natural History Museum (syntype worker could not be found). Labelled “Australia,” and “A. obscura Sm. Type.”



n = 24, 2n = 48 (Australia) (Imai et al., 1977).


Cambridge. 179 pp

  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1952a. The ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae - Part I. Am. Midl. Nat. 48: 111-144 (page 116, larva described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 1958c. Studies on the ant fauna of Melanesia. I. The tribe Leptogenyini. II. The tribes Amblyoponini and Platythyreini. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 118: 101-153 (page 142, Senior synonym of laevidens and nana)
  • Yoshimura, M. & Fisher, B.L. 2012. A revision of male ants of the Malagasy Amblyoponinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with resurrections of the genera Stigmatomma and Xymmer. PLoS ONE 7(3):e33325 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033325).

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • CSIRO Collection
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  • Cumber, R.A. 1959. Distributional and biological notes on sixteen North Island species of Formicidae (Hymenoptera)
  • Donisthorpe, Horace. 1941. The Ants of Norfolk Island. The Entomologist Monthly Magazine. 77:90-93.
  • Emery C. 1887. Catalogo delle formiche esistenti nelle collezioni del Museo Civico di Genova. Parte terza. Formiche della regione Indo-Malese e dell'Australia (continuazione e fine). [concl.]. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. 25(5): 427-473.
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Emery C. 1914. Formiche d'Australia e di Samoa raccolte dal Prof. Silvestri nel 1913. Bollettino del Laboratorio di Zoologia Generale e Agraria della Reale Scuola Superiore d'Agricoltura. Portici 8: 179-186.
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  • Emery, C. "Catalogo delle formiche esistenti nelle collezioni del Museo Civico di Genova. Parte terza. Formiche della regione Indo-Malese e dell'Australia (continuazione e fine)." Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria (Genova) (2) 5, no. 25 (1887): 427-473.
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  • Yoshimura M., and B. L. Fisher. 2012. A revision of male ants of the Malagasy Amblyoponinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with resurrections of the genera Stigmatomma and Xymmer. PLoS ONE (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033325) 7(3):e33325.