Platythyrea conradti

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Platythyrea conradti
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Platythyreini
Genus: Platythyrea
Species: P. conradti
Binomial name
Platythyrea conradti
Emery, 1899

Platythyrea conradti sam-hym-c002301a profile 1.jpg

Platythyrea conradti sam-hym-c002301a dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Synonyms

The only species in this genus with ergatoid (= permanently wingless) queens. In Ivory Coast, it nests together with Strumigenys maynei in hollow branches (Yéo et al. 2006).


At a Glance • Ergatoid queen  

 

Identification

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Angola, Benin, Cameroun (type locality), Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria.


Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Workers and brood of P. conradti in Ivory Coast. Photo by Patrick Landmann.

Platythyrea conradti inhabits large cavities inside branches of living trees. Colonies (N=14) consisted of 99 ± 66 workers (Molet et al. 2006). In Lamto Reserve (Ivory Coast), a Strumigenys maynei colony was present in 9 of 12 nests of P. conradti (Yéo et al. 2006).

Consistent with an arboreal life, P. conradti is not only predaceous but feeds on nectar (Dejean and Suzzoni 1997).

Molet and Peeters (2006) - Platythyrea conradti is the only species in this genus with ergatoid (= permanently wingless) queens. Colonies lack gamergates (unlike other species in this genus), yet aggressive interactions among queen and workers define a hierarchy. A single fertile queen has the top rank and highranking workers do not lay eggs, except when the queen dies. Colonial reproduction by both alate queens (independent foundation) and gamergates (fission) seems the ancestral state in Platythyrea. Independent foundation can be selected against in some species, causing the loss of alate queens for economic reasons. Thus gamergates become the only reproductives, except in P. conradti in which queens became ergatoid. Gamergates and ergatoid queens are two mutually redundant reproductive phenotypes that allow colonial reproduction by fission.

Commensal association between Strumigenys maynei and P. conradti. Photo by Patrick Landmann.

Dejean (2011) studied the predatory behavior of Platythyrea conradti, an arboreal ponerine ant. The workers, which hunt solitarily only around dusk, are able to capture a wide range of prey, including termites and agile, nocturnal insects as well as diurnal insects that are inactive at that moment of the Nyctemeron, resting on tree branches or under leaves. Prey are captured very rapidly, and the antennal palpation used by ground dwelling ponerine species is reduced to a simple contact; stinging occurs immediately thereafter. The venom has an instant, violent effect as even large prey (up to 30 times the weight of a worker) never struggled after being stung. Only small prey are not stung. Workers retrieve their prey, even large items, singly. To capture termite workers and soldiers defending their nest entrances, ant workers crouch and fold their antennae backward. In their role as guards, the termites face the crouching ants and end up by rolling onto their backs, their legs batting the air. This is likely due to volatile secretions produced by the ants’ mandibular gland. The same behavior is used against competing ants, including territorially dominant arboreal species that retreat further and further away, so that the P. conradti finally drive them from large, sugary food sources.

Castes

It is interesting to note that while nearly all examined Platythyrea species have gamergates, P. conradti lacks these and is the only species known to have ergatoid queens in this genus (Lévieux 1976, Molet & Peeters 2006). Caste dimorphism is extremely limited in P. conradti: ergatoid queens and workers have the same thorax volume and a mean of 18-20 ovarioles, but the queen gaster is bigger. Queens and workers aggressively interact to form a dominance hierarchy, but high-ranking workers only lay unfertilized eggs (=males) after the queen dies. A sample of 106 workers were dissected, and all had a spermatheca lacking sperm.


Ergatoid queen (top) and worker of P. conradti, showing weak caste dimorphism. Photo by Mathieu Molet.

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • conradti. Platythyrea conradti Emery, 1899e: 464 (w.m.) CAMEROON.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated), 1(?) syntype male.
    • Type-locality: Cameroon: (no further data), 1895 (Conradt).
    • [Note: Emery also mentions a specimen from Democratic Republic of Congo, deposited in MRAC.]
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1901h: 45; Stitz, 1910: 129; Forel, 1910f: 3; Emery, 1911d: 29; Forel, 1915c: 335; Forel, 1916: 398; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 59, 758; Santschi, 1930a: 53; Santschi, 1933b: 95; Santschi, 1937b: 94; Santschi, 1937d: 214; Brown, 1975: 8, 46; Bolton, 1995b: 336.
    • Senior synonym of monodi: Brown, 1975: 8; Bolton, 1995b: 336.
    • Distribution: Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast.
  • monodi. Platythyrea monodi Bernard, 1953b: 185, fig. 1b (w.) GUINEA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Guinea: Nimba, Camp IV (1000 m.), 2.vi.1942 (Lamotte).
    • Type-depository: MNHN.
    • Junior synonym of conradti: Brown, 1975: 8; Bolton, 1995b: 337.

Description

References

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Belshaw R., and B. Bolton. 1994. A survey of the leaf litter ant fauna in Ghana, West Africa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 3: 5-16.
  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1975. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini. Search Agric. (Ithaca N. Y.) 5(1): 1-115.
  • Forel A. 1901. Formiciden des Naturhistorischen Museums zu Hamburg. Neue Calyptomyrmex-, Dacryon-, Podomyrma- und Echinopla-Arten. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 18: 43-82.
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Janda M., G. D. Alpert, M. L. Borowiec, E. P. Economo, P. Klimes, E. Sarnat, and S. O. Shattuck. 2011. Cheklist of ants described and recorded from New Guinea and associated islands. Available on http://www.newguineants.org/. Accessed on 24th Feb. 2011.
  • Kone M., S. Konate, K. Yeo, P. K. Kouassi, K. E. Linsemair. 2010. Diversity and abundance of terrrestrial ants along a gradient of land use intensification in a transitional forest-savannah zone of Cote d'Ivoire. Journal of Applied Biosciences 29: 1809-1827.
  • Lévieux J. 1972. Les fourmis de la savane de Lamto (Côte d'Ivoire): éléments de taxonomie. Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire. Série A. Sciences Naturelles 34: 611-654.
  • Majer J. D. 1976. The ant mosaic in Ghana cocoa farms: further structural considerations. Journal of Applied Ecology 13: 145-155.
  • Medler J. T. 1980: Insects of Nigeria - Check list and bibliography. Mem. Amer. Ent. Inst. 30: i-vii, 1-919.
  • Molet M., and C. Peeters. 2006. Evolution of wingless reproductives in ants: weakly specialized ergatoid queen instead of gamergates in Platythyrea conradti. Insectes Sociaux 53: 177-182.
  • Santschi F. 1937. Résultats de la Mission scientifique suisse en Angola (2me voyage) 1932-1933. Fourmis angolaises. Revue Suisse de Zoologie. 44: 211-250.
  • Stitz H. 1910. Westafrikanische Ameisen. I. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 5: 125-151.
  • Tadu Z., C. Djieto-Lordon, R. Babin, Yede, E. B. Messop-Youbi, and A. Fomena. 2013. Influence of insecticide treatment on ant diversity in tropical agroforestry system: some aspect of the recolonization process. International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation 5(12): 832-844.
  • Taylor B. 1976. Ants of the Nigerian Forest Zone (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). I. Ponerinae, Cerapachyinae, Pseudomyrmecinae. Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria Technical Bulletin Series 4: 1-41.
  • Taylor B., N. Agoinon, A. Sinzogan, A. Adandonon, Y. N'Da Kouagou, S. Bello, R. Wargui, F. Anato, I. Ouagoussounon, H. Houngbo, S. Tchibozo, R. Todjhounde, and J. F. Vayssieres. 2018. Records of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Republic of Benin, with particular reference to the mango farm ecosystem. Journal of Insect Biodiversity 8(1): 006–029.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1922. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45: 711-1004
  • Yeo K., S. Konate, S. Tiho, and S. K. Camara. 2011. Impacts of land use types on ant communities in a tropical forest margin (Oumé - Cote d'Ivoire). African Journal of Agricultural Research 6(2): 260-274.
  • Yeo, K., M. Molet and C. Peeters. 2006. When David and Goliath share a home: Compound nesting of Pyramica and Platythyrea ants. Insectes Sociaux 53:435-438