|The Ants of
SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - former Pachycondyla
|Contents - Ponerinae - PONERINAE Introduction|
The publication, 18 June, 2014, of:
general, I welcome their reclassification as redressing the
post Bolton/Brown situation, which was accepted without any argued
basis. The listing of species within the, largely, revived
genera, perhaps would be better based if they had listed the species
actually examined by them. Their species lists also perhaps are
confusing in listing subspecies but not synonyms. The lists give type
location countries but not modern distributions.
For African ants the species-groups as I separated them (at least as far back as 2007) now revert to genus or are redesignated. I list what I can on the keys page. Going back to when I first got involved with ants in Nigeria, the genera now (June 2014) are as I got to know them, that is as recognised and keyed by Bolton (1973a). It seems there are no African members of Pachycondyla s.s.
For historic comparison, as Schmidt & Shattuck know of no African members.
Genus Pachycondyla F. Smith (1858b: 105)
F Smith's (1858b) description is - "Head oblong, subquadrate, the anterior margin of the clypeus rounded; mandibles large, stout and produced, their inner margin denticulate; antennae clavate; eyes placed forward on the sides of the head, ovate and of a medium size; the labial palpi 4-jointed, the maxillary palpi 4-jointed. Thorax oblong, and slightly narrowed posteriorly; the calcaria pectinate. Abdomen elongate; the node of the peduncle incrassate, quadrate or subquadrate, elevated to the same level as the first segment, and usually of nearly the same width"
Hölldobler & Wilson (1990) listed Pachycondyla as being the senior synonym of Bothroponera, Brachyponera, Megaponera, Mesoponera, Paltothyreus and Trachymesopus (junior synonym of Pseudoponera). Bolton (1994) used the same amalgamation but Belshaw & Bolton (1994b) still have Paltothyreus tarsatus. Brown (1973b) defined Pachycondyla as provisional senior synonym of Bothroponera, Mesoponera (and its junior synonym Xiphopelta), and Pseudoponera (and its junior synonym Trachymesopus). Snelling (1981) had it as provisional senior synonym of Brachyponera. Bolton (1995, 41) reported "Confirmation of these provisional synonyms, and Pachycondyla senior synonym of Euponera, .., Megaponera, .., Paltothyreus: Brown, in preparation". In the species catalogue, Bolton (1995) gave many "new combinations" arising from work in progress by W.L. Brown, and listed other references for modern revisionary studies (Brown, 1976, 1978). Professor Brown died in 1999 and so the revisions remain incomplete.
From Emery (1901a), it seems that quite an argument ensued between himself and, notably Forel, over the separation of Dorylinae and Ponerinae and what constituted the latter. He describes how Fred Smith, who had defined Pachcyondyla (Smith, 1858), had complained (1864) that "some continental authors have sunk" - the genus Pachycondyla which he had qualified as a "well defined genus". Emery went on to describe this was not wholly true, as Mayr and Roger had adopted Pachycondyla but had transformed it to a point which he found unrecognisable. Of the species placed in Pachycondyla by Smith, the later authors had transferred most into the new genera Paltothyreus, Bothroponera and Platythyrea, but the same authors had incorporated into Smith's genus, not only new species but all the large species from the Americas, with carinate genae, that Smith had left in Ponera. Time had marched on, however, and all the large American species, with a slender build and fine sculpture formed Pachycondyla, whereas the large, strongly sculptured species from the old world formed the genus Bothroponera, Mayr had placed some Indian forms in his genus Ectomomyrmex and lastly a large cosmopolitan residue was left in Ponera. Forel, having studied ants from Madagascar, had included in Bothroponera all large or medium sized species with the mesonotum shown by a segment after the "corselet", without a marked suture, and concluded that Bothroponera formed a sub-genus of Ponera. He, Forel, had said nothing about Pachycondyla. This genus, however, could be separated by having the maxillary and labial palps with 4 segments, whereas Ponera had maxillary palps with 1 or 2 segments and the labial palps with 2 segments.
Emery (1901a) however, described how he had found that whereas
palpal segment count was consistent in Pachycondyla, this was
not a consistent feature in Ponera and Bothroponera
with counts of 3 or 4 sinking the viability of this character. He
examined other characters, such as genae with carinae and the placement
of the eyes but these were not consistent, with Pachycondyla
and Bothroponera sharing the range of characters. His answer
was two natural groups -
Diagnostic Features - The amalgamation of previously separate genera means a rather broader description than before. Medium to large ants. Usually quite coarsely sculptured and dark in colour. Head with large mandibles, usually dentate, with six or seven teeth, but may be more or less, sometimes reduced to four or five. Alitrunk with promesonotal suture present and mobile, metanotal suture sometimes absent. Petiole large, often thick and nodiform. Middle and hind tibiae each with a large pectinate and a small simple spur.
The orignal Genus and subgenus descriptions, as known from
are on the following cards -
Note - Euponera Forel. Resembling Bothroponera
but smaller and much more finely sculptured.
Wheeler noted that Emery had divided this genus into four subgenera: Euponera, sensu stricto; Mesoponera; Brachyponera; and Trachymesopus. Euponera, with a single species, is confined to Madagascar; the other subgenera have a wide distribution over the tropical and subtropical portions of both hemispheres. The species live in the ground, either in crater nests or under stones, logs, etc. Euponera (Mesoponera) castanea (Mayr) of New Zealand lives, as a rule, in rotten logs and stumps. The colonies of Brachyponera are rather large and populous, those of the other subgenera much smaller. In the subgenus Trachymesopus there is a tendency to hypogaeic (underground) habits and, therefore, there is a degeneration of the eyes in the workers.
The descriptions by Bernard (1952: 187 ff) of the now synonymised genera may have merit, so:-
Genus Bothroponera Mayr - medium sized, only slightly
foraging in small groups; emit from the anal glands a sticky substance
rather than using the sting; all slender and with little sculpturation.
Given that Brown seems not to have completed the review mentioned by Bolton (1995), identification remains a problem. Thus, I have decided to also incorporate the separations used by Wheeler (1922) and retained by Bolton (1973a).
Pachycondyla species (indet.)
In Ghana, workers were found by Belshaw & Bolton (1994b) in leaf litter samples, 18 workers, and soil, 7 workers, from cocoa at Asiakwa, and primary and secondary forest at Bunso and CRIG.
Pachycondyla new species
In Ghana, a single worker was found by Belshaw & Bolton (1994b) in a leaf litter sample from secondary forest at Bobiri.
© 2007, 2010, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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