Austroponera rufonigra

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Austroponera rufonigra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Austroponera
Species: A. rufonigra
Binomial name
Austroponera rufonigra
(Clark, 1934)

Pachycondyla rufonigra casent0249178 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla rufonigra casent0249178 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


This species occurs across southern Australia from Victoria to south-western Western Australia. It nests in soil and forages in leaf litter in a wide range of forested habitats.


The sole Australian species of this small genus. The other two species occur in New Zealand.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Wheeler (1934) collected specimens (reported as Euponera clarki) "near Serpentine Lake, Rottnest Island (X. 23. '31) from a small colony nesting under a stone and a female of the same species taken with a few workers at Margaret River, W.A."

Brown (1952) noted that this species is easily recognized and common in South-western Australia, despite the two original descriptions. Outside Western Australia, Clark has reported it from the Sir Joseph Banks Islands, South Australia. I have taken it at the following localities, among others: Merivale Downs, east of Esperance, Western Australia, sandplain heath and borders of yate (Eucalyptus cornuta), swamps, under logs and Xanthorrhoea stumps. Ravine des Casoars, Kangaroo Island, Xanthorrhoea stumps in sand, mallee heath; Kuitpo Forest, Lofty Ranges, under logs in Eucalyptus leucoxylon-dominated woodland; Wilpena Pound, entrance gorge, heavy red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) woodland, under stones, the three foregoing localities in South Australia. In Victoria, I have collected this ant at Mirranatwa Gap, Grampians Ranges, under rock slabs in dense scrub of Grampians snow gum (Eucalyptus alpina) and at Djerriwarrh Creek, near Melton, in bull mallee scrub (Eucalyptus behriana) under stones. The ecological notes will serve to underline the breadth of the range and habitat tolerance shown by this species.

Heterick (2009) found that this species is confined to the south-western region of Western Australia, where it is mostly encountered as a retiring resident of litter in Banksia and Jarrah-Marri woodlands.



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

  • rufonigra. Euponera (Brachyponera) rufonigra Clark, 1934b: 30, pl. 2, figs. 12, 13 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA. Combination in Trachymesopus: Brown, 1963: 7; in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 309; in Austroponera: Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 182. Senior synonym of clarki: Heterick, 2009: 135 (in text).
  • clarki. Euponera (Trachymesopus) clarki Wheeler, W.M. 1934d: 140 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA. Combination in Trachymesopus: Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 52; in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 304. Junior synonym of rufonigra: Brown, 1952f: 138. Revived from synonymy: Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 52. Junior synonym of rufonigra: Heterick, 2009: 135 (in text).

Type Material

  • Euponera (Brachyponera) rufonigra: Syntype, worker(s), queen(s), Perth, Armadale, Mundaring, Busselton and Albany, Western Australia, Australia, Museum Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Euponera (Trachymesopus) clarki: Syntype, 1 queen, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia, Museum of Comparative Zoology.
  • Euponera (Trachymesopus) clarki: Syntype, 4 workers, Rottnest Island, Western Australia, Australia, Museum of Comparative Zoology.
  • Euponera (Trachymesopus) clarki: Syntype, 1 worker, near Mud Lake, Rottnest Island, Western Australia, Australia, Western Australian Museum.
  • Euponera (Trachymesopus) clarki: Syntype, worker(s), queen(s), Serpentine Lake, Western Australia, Australia.

Taxonomic Notes

Brown (1952): These two names were applied in part to what seems to be the same nest series, collected by Clark at Armadale, Western Australia. Examination of the types shows clearly that they are synonymous, though this synonymy might not be guessed from the original descriptions, both of which are in error in numerous minor ways. Wheeler's description was stated to have been published on the "5th October, 1934," while the National Museum Memoir No. 8 bears the cover inscription "Issued September, 1934." I have not been able to confirm the latter date, so the seniority of synonymy must remain in some doubt. It is to be regretted that mailing dates of this publication are not more precisely recorded.

Heterick (2009) examined Wheeler's (1934) clarki and Clark's (1934) rufonigra and found that they appear to be no more than colour variations of the same species: clarki has a brown pronotum, but is otherwise indistinguishable from rufonigra, in which the pronotum varies from brownish black to black. He therefore regarded clarki as the junior synonym of rufonigra, a position first proposed for this species by Brown (1952).