Melophorus microreticulatus

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Melophorus microreticulatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Melophorini
Genus: Melophorus
Species group: biroi
Species complex: biroi
Species: M. microreticulatus
Binomial name
Melophorus microreticulatus
Heterick, Castalanelli & Shattuck, 2017

Melophorus microreticulatus major side ANIC32-900171.jpg

Melophorus microreticulatus major top ANIC32-900171.jpg

Specimen labels

Evolutionary Relationships
Melophorus


Melophorus ludius species group



Melophorus potteri species group





Melophorus aeneovirens species group




Melophorus biroi species group (biroi species complex)




Melophorus biroi species group (wheeleri species complex)




Melophorus biroi species group (brevignathus species complex)



Melophorus biroi species group (fieldi species complex)







Based on Heterick et al., 2017. Only selected species groups/complexes are included.

Specimens collected at Lake Mere were taken from a paddock. The principal author of this work has also collected the species in tall eucalyptus woodland east of Southern Cross, WA. A worker was collected in mulga woodland at Merigol Station, QLD. (Heterick et al. 2017)

Identification

Heterick et al. (2017) - Melophorus microreticulatus can be placed in the Melophoprus biroi species-group on the basis of characters of the clypeus, propodeum, mandible and palps. The species is placed in the Melophoprus biroi species-complex on the basis of a further suite of characters (viz, metatibia of major worker with only one preapical spur [except rarely in the Melophorus mjobergi clade]; clypeal psammophore placed anteriorly at or just above anterior margin of clypeus in the minor worker and often in the major worker; head dorsoventrally compressed to varying degrees in the minor worker of most species with the eyes placed high on the sides; compact legs, and small body size [excluding mjobergi clade]; HW of smallest minor 0.36 mm, average HW of smallest minors 0.46 mm; HW of largest known major 1.29 mm, average HW of largest majors [where known] 1.05 mm). This species is characterised by having large eyes (EI 40 ≥). The minor worker is of small size (HW 0.40 mm ≥) and lacks erect setae on mesosoma and first gastral tergite. The minor worker can be distinguished from similar size Melophorus biroi, the only species with which it may be confused, by possessing distinct microreticulate sculpture over the mesosoma (this sculpturing may be weaker on the pronotum in some specimens). The major worker has a posterior clypeal margin that is not arched or falling away between the antennal insertion and tentorial pit, and an anterior clypeal margin that is straight and not protuberant. This, and the microreticulate sculpture will serve to distinguish the M. microreticulatus major worker from the major worker of Melophorus biroi.

This species is distinctive through its large eye, netted microreticulate mesosoma, protuberant propodeum and small size. As mentioned above, it fits in a clade that includes several other small species that possess a scalloped or otherwise sculptured mesopleuron and distinctive propodeum. The smoother specimens suggest a likely close relationship with M. biroi

Distribution

Heterick et al. (2017) - Melophorus microreticulatus is a reasonably common small Melophorus thus far recorded from arid or semi-arid parts of NSW, NT, QLD, SA and WA, but it undoubtedly also occurs in western Victoria (one record coming from Brookfield Conservation Park near the SA, Vic border)..

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

AntMapLegend.png

Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Castes

Worker

Nomenclature

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

  • microreticulatus. Melophorus microreticulatus Heterick, Castalanelli & Shattuck, 2017: 200, fig. 42 (w.) AUSTRALIA.

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

Description

Worker

(n = 8): CI 95–111; EI 25–45; EL 0.18–0.19; HL 0.41–0.70; HW 0.40–0.78; ML 0.55–0.90; MTL 0.26–0.44; PpH 0.06–0.09; PpL 0.23–0.39; SI 65–88; SL 0.35–0.50.

Minor. Head. Head approximately oval with straight sides; posterior margin of head planar to strongly convex; frons shining with superficial shagreenation or microreticulation only, or matt or with weak sheen, microreticulate or microreticulate-shagreenate; frons consisting exclusively or almost exclusively of well-spaced, appressed setae only (small, erect setae, if present, usually confined to ocular triangle or posterior margin of head). Eye large (eye length ≥ 0.50 × length of side of head capsule); in full-face view, eyes set at about midpoint of head capsule; in profile, eye set anteriad of midline of head capsule; eyes elliptical or slightly reniform. In full-face view, frontal carinae straight or weakly convex; frontal lobes curved inward in front of antennal insertion. Anteromedial clypeal margin broadly and evenly convex and protrusive; clypeal psammophore set below midpoint of clypeus; palp formula 6,4. Five mandibular teeth in minor worker; mandibles triangular, weakly incurved; third mandibular tooth distinctly shorter than apical tooth and teeth numbers two and four; masticatory margin of mandibles approximately vertical or weakly oblique. Mesosoma. Integument of pronotum, mesonotum and mesopleuron matt or with weak sheen and microreticulate throughout, or pronotum smooth and shining, mesonotum shining and superficially microreticulate, mesopleuron densely microreticulate and may be almost matt; anterior mesosoma in profile smoothly rounded anteriad, thereafter pronotum and whole of mesonotum flattened and on same plane as propodeum; erect pronotal setae absent; in profile, metanotal groove shallow, broadly V or U-shaped; propodeum matt or with a weak sheen and microreticulate; propodeum angulate, propodeal angle blunt; length ratio of propodeal dorsum to its declivity between 3:2 and 4:3; erect propodeal setae always absent; appressed propodeal setulae long, each reaching setae behind and in front, but not forming pubescence; propodeal spiracle situated on or beside declivitous face of propodeum, and shorter (length < 0.50 × height of propodeum). Petiole. In profile, petiolar node squamiform; in full-face view, shape of petiolar node uniformly rounded; node shining and smooth throughout. Gaster. Gaster smooth and glossy; pilosity of first gastral tergite consisting of well-spaced short, inconspicuous, appressed setae only, erect setae always absent. General characters. Colour of head and mesosoma dark brown to blackish-brown, mesosoma variably brown-and-orange-tan.

Major. Head. Head square; posterior margin of head planar or weakly concave; cuticle of frons shining and smooth except for piliferous pits and a few striolae around antennal insertions and Frontal carinae; frons consisting exclusively or almost exclusively of well-spaced, appressed setae only (small, erect setae, if present, usually confined to ocular triangle or posterior margin of head). Eye moderate (eye length 0.20–0.49 length of head capsule); in full-face view, eyes set at about midpoint of head capsule; in profile, eye set anteriad of midline of head capsule; eyes elliptical. In full-face view, frontal carinae straight or weakly convex; frontal lobes curved inward in front of antennal insertion. Anterior clypeal margin broadly and evenly convex; clypeal psammophore set at or above midpoint of clypeus; palp formula 6,4. Five mandibular teeth in major worker; mandibles triangular, weakly incurved; third mandibular tooth distinctly shorter than apical tooth and teeth numbers two and four; masticatory margin of mandibles approximately aligned vertically or weakly oblique. Mesosoma. Integument of pronotum, mesonotum and mesopleuron matt or with weak sheen and microreticulate throughout; anterior mesosoma in profile pronotum smoothly rounded anteriad and flattened posteriad, mesonotum narrowly convex; erect pronotal setae short, (i.e., shorter than length of eye) and unmodified; in profile, metanotal groove shallow, broadly V- or U-shaped; propodeum shining, dorsum and declivitous face of propodeum mainly smooth, but with weak to strong vertical striolae arising from metapleuron; propodeum wedge-shaped, tapering dorsad; length ratio of propodeal dorsum to its declivity between 3:2 and 4:3; erect propodeal setae absent; appressed propodeal setae short, separated by more than own length and inconspicuous; propodeal spiracle situated on or beside declivitous face of propodeum, and shorter (length less than 0.50 × height of propodeum). Petiole. In profile, petiolar node squamiform; in full-face view, shape of petiolar node uniformly rounded; node shining and smooth with vestigial microreticulation anteriad. Gaster. Gaster smooth and glossy; pilosity of first gastral tergite consisting of well-spaced, erect and semi-erect setae interspersed with regularly spaced appressed setae. General characters. Colour concolorous light brown or orange tan.

Type Material

Holotype minor worker from Emu Camp, Victoria Desert, 5 October 1976, P.J.M. Greenslade, (8), h1, [ANIC32-900172] (Australian National Insect Collection). Paratypes: major and media worker from Gawler Range, South Australia, 4 October 1972, P.J.M. Greenslade, (2) [ANIC32-900171] (ANIC); 3 minor workers from Fowlers Gap, New South Wales, 18 November 1979, P.J.M. Greenslade, (4) (ANIC); 2 minor workers from Gawler Ranges, South Australia, 4 October 1972, P.J.M. Greenslade, (2) A (The Natural History Museum); 2 minor workers from Brookfield Conservation Park 34°19'S, 139°29'E, South Australia, 29 October 1991, S. Shattuck, # 2525.7 [ANIC32-900098] (Museum of Comparative Zoology); 2 minor workers from Cunnamulla, Queensland, 17 September 1974, P.J.M. Greenslade, (8), gpt (Queensland Museum); 2 minor workers from 5 km NE Koonamore HS, South Australia, 26 February 1973, P.J.M. Greenslade, (1) K1/lo(?) 13 (South Australian Museum); minor worker from 7 km NE Leinster, Western Australia, 16 September 1988, B. Heterick, soil, native vegetation, rural environment, 451, 8MelBh25 [JDM32-004550] (Western Australian Museum).

Etymology

Compound of Greek mikros (‘small’) plus Latin reticulatus (‘netted’); adjective in the nominative singular.

References