Nothing is known about the biology of Cardiocondyla tibetana.
Seifert (2003) - A member of the Cardiocondyla stambuloffii group. The unique character combination of Cardiocondyla tibetana enables a safe distinction from any known Palaearctic species both by morphometry, body shape, and microstructures. The minute hair base punctures and full absence of any foveolae on the vertex, as well as the shape of the spines and postpetiole are the reasons for positioning C. tibetana near the Cardiocondyla stambuloffii group. However, the larger eye size, the narrower frons, the lower petiole height and postpetiole width indicate affinities to both the Cardiocondyla elegans and the Cardiocondyla bulgarica groups.
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Little is known about Cardiocondyla tibetana. 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.
- tibetana. Cardiocondyla tibetana Seifert, 2003a: 269, fig. 49 (w.) TIBET.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Head moderately elongated, CL/CW 1.161. Scape longer, frons narrower, and eye distinctly larger than in members of C. stambuloffii group; SLiCS 0. 849, FRS/CS 0.284, EYE 0.250. Postocular distance shorter than in Cardiocondyla gibbosa, PoOc/CL 0.424. Clypeus, frontal laminae, median and paramedian vertex very densely longitudinally carinulate-rugulose; distance between carinulae on central vertexonly 4 - 5 mm. Carinulae on lateral area of vertex interrupted and with much larger, more or less shining interspaces. Poorly visible hair base punctures of only 5 - 8 mm diameter scattered in the interspaces; many of hair bases without surrounding micropunctures (Fig. 49 shows no average situation). Foveolae completely absent. Posterior third of head almost glabrous, only scattered hair base punctures present. Pronotum glabrous. Dorsal parts of mesonotum and propodeum mainly smooth and shining, longitudinal carinulae may occur. Mesonotum laterally with interrupted, meso- and metapleurae with stronger, more continuous longitudinal rugulosity. Propodeal spines reduced to very short dents. Petiole much lower and postpetiole much narrower than in members of C. stambuloffii group, PEH/CS 0.3 1 6, PPW/CS 0.502. Petiole node wider than long. Whole body rather concolorous medium to blackish brown, appendages and sometimes clypeus lighter with yellowish tinge.
Holotype worker (the specimen with CW = 510) and 2 paratype workers labelled “S Takklamakan Desert: 81.41 E, 36.52 N, Cele Research Station, 1996.08.26”, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz; 2 paratype workers pierced on minute pins in the same block of Sambucus pith and labelled “Tibet coli. G.Mayr”, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna.
- Seifert, B. 2003. The ant genus Cardiocondyla (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae) - a taxonomic revision of the C. elegans, C. bulgarica, C. batesii, C. nuda, C. shuckardi, C. stambuloffii, C. wroughtonii, C. emeryi, and C. minutior species groups. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien Serie B Botanik und Zoologie. 104:203-338.