Cardiocondyla shuckardi

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Cardiocondyla shuckardi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Cardiocondyla
Species: C. shuckardi
Binomial name
Cardiocondyla shuckardi
Forel, 1891

Cardiocondyla shuckardi casent0101218 profile 1.jpg

Cardiocondyla shuckardi casent0101218 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


The most common and widespread endemic Cardiocondyla species in the Afrotropical region.

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  • Wingless male  



Bolton (1982) - C. shuckardi is recognised by its dimensions and extremely reduced propodeal armament. Other species in the region with reduced propodeal armament include Cardiocondyla monardi, Cardiocondyla sekhemka and Cardiocondyla nilotica. In the first of these the metanotal groove is absent and the pedicel segments are very elongate. C. sekhemka is a much smaller species with shorter scapes and a broader head, and nilotica has longer scapes than shuckardi and a narrower postpetiole.

Seifert (2003) - A member of the Cardiocondyla shuckardi group. Cardiocondyla shuckardi is treated here as a polymorphic Malagasy and SE African species. The occurrence of transitions between the different sculpture and pubescence types observed in the type specimens of C. shuckardi and Cardiocondyla shuckardoides and the high overall similarity of these taxa suggest conspecifity.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Botswana, Cameroun, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar (type locality).
Palaearctic Region: Kuwait.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Little is known about Cardiocondyla shuckardi. Until further studies reveal more about this species we can infer that its natural history and biology is likely similar to other members of the genus. Seifert revised the holarctic species of Cardiocondyla in 2003 and the following synopsis is based on his excellent treatment of the genus. References to other publications and more details about what is reported here can be found in Seifert (2003).

Many Cardiocondyla species inhabit areas that experience frequent disturbance and/or are quite open. These may be human altered areas, where a number of Cardiocondyla tramp species thrive, but also natural areas such as semi deserts and steppes, immature soils at rivers, lakes, and sea shores and to a lesser extent forest margins or burned-down woodland patches. In contrast to this open-land group, the natural habitat affinities of many tropical species are primary rain forests.

Nests are typically in soil and sometimes under stones. Two species are known to nest in vegetation but this is unusual for the genus. The single nest entrances is small (1-1.5 mm) and inconspicuous. In the desert nests can be relatively deep (> 1m) and have many chambers but in areas where conditions are less extreme there is generally a single chamber (15-20 mm diameter and 3-4 mm height) that is not far below the ground surface (2-15 cm).

Cardiocondyla tramp species (Cardiocondyla wroughtonii, Cardiocondyla obscurior, Cardiocondyla mauritanica, Cardiocondyla emeryi and Cardiocondyla minutior) are known to be polygynous, as are some less widespread species, while other species are known to be monogynous.

Cardiocondyla ants are omnivorous. Zoophagy (zoo necrophagy and killing of small weakly sclerotised arthropods), granivory, and nectarivory have also been noted. Tandem running has been observed as a method of recruitment to food sources in a few species.

Intranidal mating appears to be the norm for most species in the genus. Mating strategies are species dependent and may take various forms. Winged males may mate within their nest or fly to and enter other colonies to mate. Queen mate intranidally and fly from their nest to begin a new colony, become integrated into their natal colony, or may walk away from their nest and establish a new colony nearby.

Cardiocondyla are unusual in having peculiar male forms. Male polymorphism is found in some species with typical males and an ergatoid form. These latter males are wingless and worker like in appearance. Ergatoid males fight with other males within their natal nest. By killing potential rival males, a dominant male can monopolize matings with the virgin queens in their colony. Morphological modifications that enhance the fighting abilities of ergatoid males have been documented, e.g., modified mandibles well suited to fighting and increased mesosomal size for better protection against attacks from rivals. Another unusual characteristic of ergatoid males is the continuation of spermatogenesis throughout their adult life. Males of most aculeate hymenoptera stop producing sperm once they are fully mature.

Some species are known to produce different queen morphs. This presumably facilitates there being a longer range dispersal queen form and a shorter or non-dispersing form. Gyne polymorphism appears to be an adaptation for species inhabiting continental desert or semi-desert habitats. The cosmopolitan tramp species, on the other hand, do not exhibit this gyne polymorphism.





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

  • shuckardi. Cardiocondyla shuckardi Forel, 1891b: 161 (w.) MADAGASCAR. Subspecies of nuda: Forel, 1895c: 251. Revived status as species: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 1021. Senior synonym of brevispinosa, fusca, sculptior, wassmanni: Bolton, 1982: 316; of shuckardoides: Seifert, 2003a: 257.
  • shuckardoides. Cardiocondyla nuda var. shuckardoides Forel, 1895c: 250 (w.) MADAGASCAR. Junior synonym of shuckardi: Seifert, 2003a: 257.
  • sculptior. Cardiocondyla wasmanni var. sculptior Santschi, 1926b: 241 (w.) GABON. Junior synonym of shuckardi: Bolton, 1982: 316.
  • wassmanni. Cardiocondyla wassmanni Santschi, 1926b: 241 (w.) CAMEROUN. Junior synonym of shuckardi: Bolton, 1982: 316.
  • brevispinosa. Cardiocondyla brevispinosa Weber, 1952: 6 (w.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. [Unresolved junior secondary homonym of Pheidole brevispinosa Donisthorpe, above.] Junior synonym of shuckardi: Bolton, 1982: 316.
  • fusca. Cardiocondyla fusca Weber, 1952: 7 (w.) UGANDA. Junior synonym of shuckardi: Bolton, 1982: 316.

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



Bolton (1982) - TL 2.0-2.6, HL 0.50-0.60, HW 0.38-0.46, CI 75-79, SL 0.36-0.45, SI 93-100, PW 0.27-0.35, AL 0.54-0.69 (35 measured).

Antennal scapes when laid back on the head in full-face view either just failing to reach or just reaching the occipital corners, never distinctly surpassing them; the scapes moderately long, SI > 90. Maximum diameter of eye 0.11-0.14, about 0.26-0.30 x HW and with 9-12 ommatidia in the longest row. Head always obviously longer than broad, CI < 80 in material examined. Pronotal corners in dorsal view broadly and evenly rounded. With the alitrunk in profile the promesonotal dorsum forming an even shallow convexity from front to back, sloping evenly into the metanotal groove. Metanotal groove impressed but the depth of the impression varying between samples. To some extent the apparent variation in depth is caused by the convexity of the propodeum behind the groove as in some cases it rises more steeply and is more convex than in others. Propodeal dorsum behind the convex portion sloping downwards posteriorly to the junction with the declivity. Propodeal armament very reduced, at best represented only by a pair of minute triangular denticles which may be acute or blunted, or by a pair of tubercles, or merely bluntly angular; never with developed teeth or spines. In dorsal view the propodeal armament scarcely visible, the length of each component constituting only a fraction of the distance separating their bases. Petiole node in dorsal view subglobular, usually broader than long but in some only about as broad as long. Postpetiole distinctly broader than long. In profile the petiole and postpetiole as in Fig. 1, the petiolar dorsum convex and somewhat variable in length. Sculpture of dorsal head and alitrunk usually of fine, very dense blanketing shagreening or granulation, but this may be reduced on tile alitrunk or even on the head, though less frequently on the latter than on the former. In extreme cases the dorsal alitrunk may be almost smooth. Hairs absent except on mouthparts and gastral apex. Colour varying from medium brown to blackish brown, sometimes black.

Type Material

Seifert (2003) - Syntype workers labelled by Forel “C. shuckardi Forel male, Imcrina Madagascar (Camboue)” and with a printed red label “Type”, Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève Geneve. 1 syntype worker labelled by Forel “C. shuckardi Forel d Type Antananarivo (Camboue)”, MHN Geneve.