Lasius balearicus

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Lasius balearicus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Lasius
Species: L. balearicus
Binomial name
Lasius balearicus
Talavera, Espadaler & Vila, 2014

Talavera Espadaler and Vila 2014 Lasius balearicus b.jpg

Talavera Espadaler and Vila 2014 Lasius balearicus c.jpg

Lasius balearicus displays a peculiar geographical distribution, as it has been solely reported from the top summits of the island of Mallorca. All localities where the species has been collected lay between 800 and 1400 metres above sea level. A typical habitat composition included rocky calcareous surfaces, with sparse and shrubby vegetation, and frequently composed of the endemic plants Hypericum balearicum and Genista valdes-bermejoi. Specimens were collected from nests under stones and on nearby vegetation, frequently tending aphids.

Identification

Talavera, Espadaler & Vila (2014) - The species belongs in the subgenus Lasius s. str. as conceived by Wilson (1955). The maxillary palp segments V and VI are subequal in length to segment IV and eye length is at least 0.20 9 the head width. Those two characters in combination define Lasius s. str. The small size, high pilosity, and a distinct coloration are the three main diagnostic characteristics typifying Lasius balearicus.

Using the dichotomous key in Seifert (1992) this species would key to couplet 28 although its morphology does not fit either of the two species under the dichotomy Lasius platythorax and Lasius grandis. Specifically, by the character HL/HW (900) it would correspond to L. grandis and by the character SL/HL (900) it would be L. platythorax. Coloration of L. balearicus is also clearly distinct from that of those two species. Seifert’s (1992) key could be amended as follows in order to include L. balearicus:

28

28a

  • SL/HL (900) > 0.982. Size much bigger (HL 1037 ± 0.06) and less hairy (nHS 22.8 ± 7.3) . . . . . Lasius grandis
  • SL/HL (900) < 0.982. Size smaller (HL 0.88 ± 0.05) and hairier (nHS 35.8 ± 5.3) . . . . . Lasius balearicus


The combination of morphology and colour of L. balearicus is unique. Small body size, AND coloration AND marked hairiness characterize L. balearicus. Specifically, the number of standing hairs on dorsal profile of the scape is the highest among known species of Palaearctic Lasius. The number of tibial hairs is also very high, only surpassed by the Asiatic Lasius hirsutus, from which it differs by the much denser gaster tergite pubescence in L. balearicus. Colour is also diagnostic. Taken in isolation, workers of L. balearicus are reminiscent of recently eclosed Lasius grandis or Lasius cinereus, which are the morphologically and phylogenetically closest species. All examined workers have the same, consistent, coloration. When dry, the gaster is somewhat darker that the head and alitrunk.

Within the Palaearctic Lasius s. str. species, the closest species are L. grandis Forel and L. cinereus Seifert, both species having a Western Mediterranean distribution (Seifert, 1992; Espadaler et al., 2011). Lasius grandis, as its name indicates, has a bigger size, with HL (standard deviation) 1.03 (0.06), a less hairy scape and legs, with nHS 22.8 (7.3) and nHHT 25.6 (6.7), and denser clypeal pubescence (PDCL 19.3 (4.9). Lasius cinereus, with its entirely dull mesosoma, is clearly separable from L. balearicus, whose pronotum sides are shining. Hairiness is less developed in L. cinereus, especially in the scape, with nHS 22.2 (3.5), and nHHT 21.7 (2.4). Clypeal pubescence is denser (20.5 (5.1)) in L. cinereus. The molecular phylogeny shows that L. balearicus is sister to both L. grandis and L. cinereus, from which it apparently diverged approximately 1.5 Ma.

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Spain (type locality).


Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Talavera Espadaler and Vila 2014. Type Locality.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • balearicus. Lasius balearicus Talavera, Espadaler & Vila, 2014: 9, figs. 1, 4 (w.) SPAIN.

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

Description

Worker

[n = 51 for all variables but PDCL (n = 20) and mandibular dents (n = 48)]. Mean; SD (range). Head longer than wide; HL 0.88; 0.05 (0.73–0.97), HW 0.80; 0.05 (0.65–0.89), HL/ HW 1.09; 0.02 (1.04–1.12). HL/HW (900) 1.101. In frontal view the head profile is entirely hairy, up to the mandible base ; nBH 22.92; 3.28 (13–30). Clypeal pubescence rather diluted, similar in density to L. platythorax; PDCL 26.43; 4.87 (19–42). Clypeal carina variable, even in individuals of the same nest: from being clearly expressed in the anterior two-thirds to totally absent. Scape usually shorter than head length; SL 0.85; 0.05 (0.67–0.93), SL/HL 0.96; 0.02 (0.91–1.03). SL/HL (900) 0.966. Very hairy scape; nHS 35.82; 5.38 (26–52). Very hairy tibiae; nHHT 29.78; 4.61 (17–40). Mandibular dents 8.55; 0.57 (8–10). Surface characters: frontal head with very visible punctures. Microreticulum is more developed at the posterior third of the head surface, and most developed in the disk of pronotum. Space between punctures and microreticulum is shining. Colour: the entire body is yellowish brown, with antennae and tarsi clearer.

Type Material

Holotype: worker collected in Coll des Prat, Escorca, Mallorca, Spain, 39°48’29.86″ N 2°51’4.52″ E, 1194 m, 13.x.2008, code 08R384, R. Vila & G. Talavera leg. Deposited at the Natural History Museum (London, UK).

Paratypes. 14 workers from the same nest as the holotype. Coll des Prat, Escorca, Mallorca, Spain, 39°48’29.86″ N 2°51;4.52″ E, 1194 m, 13.x.2008, code 08R384, R. Vila & G. Talavera leg. 15 workers, Puig des Teix, Mallorca, Spain, 39°43’56.74″ N, 2°38’53.03″ E, 919 m, 12.x.2008, code 08I725, R. Vila & G. Talavera leg. 15 workers, pic Tomir, Mallorca, Spain, 39°50’13.88″ N, 2°55’19.46″ E, 1048 m, 14.x.2008, code 08R372, R. Vila & G. Talavera leg. Two workers, Coma de n’Arbona, Mallorca, Spain, 39°48’5″N, 2°47’8.99″E, 1200 m, 2009, code PM053, A. Traveset leg. One worker, Puig des Teix, Mallorca, Spain, x.1982, C.A. Collingwood leg. One worker, ses Clotades, Mallorca, Spain, 39°48’33.99″N, 2°47’49.99″ E, 1330 m, 15.vi.2011, code PM1006, C. Tur leg.

Three paratype workers from the same nest as the holotype deposited at each of the following institutions: Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cambridge, MA, USA), Natural History Museum (London, UK) and Senckenberg Museum (G€orlitz, Germany). Three paratype workers from Puig des Teix deposited at the Museu Balear de Ciencies Naturals (S_oller, Mallorca). Other paratype material in the authors’ collections [Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF) and Universitat Aut_onoma de Barcelona, both in Barcelona, Spain].

Etymology

The specific name is derived from the Balearic Islands.

References