Costa Rica…
January 22, 2010, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Thoughts

Blogging will take a break for the next two months for cause of travelling in Costa Rica and Panama.

I will be taking the OTS course in Tropical Ecology and will come back at the end of March.

Hopefully, I should be able to take a lot of ant pictures during my trip.

Before to leave, I have to fill a commitment.

In a previous blog, I said that if someone could give me 5 good reasons to like Paratrechina (now Nylanderia), I would write a poem. Well, James Trager gave me several reasons, and all good, so here is my poem.

I apologize for those of you that appreciate poetry in Shakespeare language, but I felt more comfortable to do so in Rabelais language (but the comparison stop here).

Nylanderia cours dans la litière du bois

Frénétiquement, à la recherche d’une proie

Les poils hirsutes et la cuticule brillante,

Les mandibules légèrement ballantes.

Qu’un cadavre frais d’insecte se présente

Et c’est une brève inspection qui commence.

Pas de temps à perdre, les antennes dansent

Avant la venue des autres dominantes.

Recruter, récolter sont les impératifs

Pour nourrir la colonie et ses œufs natifs.

Soudain les longues antennes goûtent l’air

D’une odeur ni amicale, ni familière.

A retraite honorable, suis un repas

Pour celles qu’on appelait Paratrechina.

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Ant genera of the world: new design!
January 19, 2010, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Database additions

Thanks to the fantastic work of my friend and colleague Neil McCoy, our website on Ant Genera of the World has now a brand new interface.

Neil already made the first design, but was not totally satisfied with it. So he decided to recreate the design of the website to something more interactive and more visual. I personally love the new website and hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do. Over the past months, Neil has also created the lab webpage for our lab (Rob Dunn’s lab website).

If you need to create a webpage or update your old one, don’t hesitate to contact Neil McCoy (mccoy.neil1@gmail.com) to prospect for possibilities.

We have also used this occasion to update the maps and include some of the new genera recently described over the past months, while we did not update the recent revision of Paratrechina (see previous post).

If you detect any bug on the website, please let us know to fix it.



Paratrechina, major changes
January 9, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Database additions

I love ants, all of them. Even at a point, this always surprises my family that I find them very pretty. However, to all rules, there is an exception: the genus Paratrechina. For the species I encounter here in North Carolina, I can’t say that I could imagine myself study them for years (but probably if I tried, I would changed my mind). They are funny looking with their erected setae all along the body, but to me they all look the same, and when my colleagues ask me to check ant identification, I always expect that it is not a Paratrechina. They are my ID nightmare.

Nylanderia flavipes from Okayama, Japan

Well, thanks to an article published by LaPolla and collaborators in Systematic Entomology, it turns out that my nightmare might have tripled now (many thanks 😉 . The former Paratrechina genus is now split into Paratrechina sensu sricto, Nylanderia and Paraparatrechina. In this article, the authors explored the Prenolepis genus group (Euprenolepis, Nylanderia, Paraparatrechina, Paratrechina, Prenolepis and Pseudolasius) and found several interesting results. As just said, Paratrechina is now divided into 3 distinct genera. The Paratrechina genus is now represented only by the invasive Paratrechina longicornis. The native Paratrechina from North America for instance, now become Nylanderia (for example Nylanderia concinna, faisonensis, parvula, or vividula). Note that Nylanderia has a global distribution (but absent for high latitudes) So the revision of James Trager of Paratrechina in 1984, turn out to be now a revision of Nylanderia (with the exception of the part on Paratrechina longicornis ). The genus Paraparatrechina is mostly limited to the tropical regions of the old world (with the exceptions of south east Australia). See the maps in the article for the distribution of the different genera.

Here is the abstract of the article:

We investigated the phylogeny and taxonomy of the Prenolepis genusgroup, a clade of ants we define within the subfamily Formicinae comprising the genera Euprenolepis, Nylanderia, gen. rev., Paraparatrechina, gen. rev. & stat. nov., Paratrechina, Prenolepis and Pseudolasius. We inferred a phylogeny of the Prenolepis genus-group using DNA sequence data from five genes (CAD, EF1αF1, EF1αF2, wingless and COI) sampled from 50 taxa. Based on the results of this phylogeny the taxonomy of the Prenolepis genus-group was re-examined. Paratrechina (broad sense) species segregated into three distinct, robust clades. Paratrechina longicornis represents a distinct lineage, a result consistent with morphological evidence; because this is the type species for the genus, Paratrechina is redefined as a monotypic genus. Two formerly synonymized subgenera, Nylanderia and Paraparatrechina, are raised to generic status in order to provide names for the other two clades. The majority of taxa formerly placed in Paratrechina, 133 species and subspecies, are transferred to Nylanderia, and 28 species and subspecies are transferred to Paraparatrechina. In addition, two species are transferred from Pseudolasius to Paraparatrechina and one species of Pseudolasius is transferred to Nylanderia. A morphological diagnosis for the worker caste of all six genera is provided, with a discussion of the morphological characters used to define each genus. Two genera, Prenolepis and Pseudolasius, were not recovered as monophyletic by the molecular data, and the implications of this result are discussed. A worker-based key to the genera of the Prenolepis genus-group is provided.

Finally, note that with the descriptions of those two new genera, my list of extant genera now reach the symbolic number of 300! That’s a good way to start 2010.

Alright, I have some new maps to update now!

PS: If you can give me 5 good reasons to love Paratrechina/Nylanderia/Paraparatrechina, I promise to try to write a poem to celebrate them (in French or in English).

References:

LaPolla J.S., S.G. Brady, and S.O. Shattuck. 2010. Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Prenolepis genus-group of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 35: 118-131.

Trager J.C. A revision of the genus Paratrechina of the continental United States. Sociobiology 9: 51-162.



2009 or a great year for new ant genera
January 9, 2010, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is the first post for this new Year 2010, so let’s go back in the past, you know those old time of 2009, or even 2008. But first of all, I wish you an excellent new year, with I hope tons of discoveries and exciting ant projects .

Recapitulate what happens in 2009 for ant genera discoveries.

As we say for wine, 2008 was a “grand cru”, well 2009 was a “cru exceptionnel”!

For those of you who are also wine lovers, you might have heard that the wine production last year in France is supposed to be exceptional (un cru exeptionnel in French)!

Well, 2009 was not only a great year for French wine bottles but also for ant new genera descriptions!

The graphic below represents the number of new genera described each year from 2000 to 2009 (2009 should have 9 genera and not 8).

From 2000 to 2007, about zero to two new genera maximum per year have been described. And then, we had a first burst in 2008 with 4 new genera (including one new sub-family, Martialinae)! But that’s nothing beside the big bang of 2009 and its 9 new genera. So what is happening and who are the newbie’s and the resurrected genera?

Well, first it seems that a new prolific and very nice generation of new myrmecologists is arriving and they are eager to let their mark in myrmecology, while at the same time some more established myrmecologists have continued their great work.

The year 2008 saw the arrival of Feroponera and Promyopias Bolton & Fisher in Africa (the later been resurrected);Opamyrma Yamane et al. in Vietnam; and the new subfamily Martialinae and genus Martialis Rabeling et al. from Brazil.

The year 2009 has Kalathomyrmex and Paramycetophylax Klingerberg & Brandao from South America (the later been resurrected); Tropidomyrmex Silva et al. (2009) also from South America; Aptinoma and Ravavy Fisher (2009) from Madagascar; Austromorium Shattuck from Australia; Diaphoromyrma Fernandez et al. from Bahia (Brazil ); andPropodilobus Branstetter from Borneo.

Finally, I just found out yesterday the description of a new genus from Taiwan (or I should say from an island just beside Taiwan) by M. Terayama and called Formosimyrma (Myrmicinae).

So the total for 2009 is 7  new Myrmicine genera and 2 new Dolichoderine genera.

So 9 new genera descriptions to beat in 2010. It seems that this new year is starting well with the split of Paratrechinainto 3 genera: Paratrechina, Parapatrechina and Nylanderia (see next post) by LaPolla and collaborators.

So as a summary for 2009:

– Most genera described were Myrmicinae (7/9).

– South America (4/9), Asia (2/9), Madagascar (2/9) and Australia (1/9) are the regions that contributed to new ant genera description.

– The journal Zootaxa has become the main journal for generic description/revision of ant taxa (8 genera on 9 described in this journal)

Some of those changes are already online on Ant Genera of the World, and the rest will come with very soon (with the next big update of our website in the coming weeks)

References:

Bolton B., and B.L. Fisher . 2008. Afrotropical ants of the ponerine genera Centromyrmex Mayr, Promyopias Santschi gen. rev. and Feroponera gen. n., with a revised key to genera of African Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Zootaxa 1929: 1-37.

Branstetter M.G. 2009. The ant genus Stenamma Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) redefined, witha description of a new genus Propodilobus. Zootaxa 2221: 41-57.

Fernandez F., J.H.C. Delabie, and I.C. do Nascimento. 2009. Diaphoromyrma, a new myrmicine ant genus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from North Eastern Brazil. Zootaxa 2204: 55-62.

Fisher B.L. 2009. Two new dolichoderine ant genera from Madagascar: Aptinoma gen. n. and Ravavy gen. n. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2118: 37-52.

Klingenberg C., and C.R.F. Brandao. 2009. Revision of the fungus-growing ant genera Mycetophylax Emery and Paramycetophylax Kusnezov rev. stat., and description of Kalathomyrmex n. gen. (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Attini). Zootaxa 2052: 1-31.

LaPolla J.S., S.G. Brady, and S.O. Shattuck. 2010. Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Prenolepis genus-group of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 35: 118-131.

Rabeling C., J.M. Brown, and M. Verhaagh. 2008. Newly discovered sister lineage sheds lighton early ant evolution.PNAS 105 (39): 14913-14917.

Shattuck S.O. Austromorium, a new myrmicine ant genus from Australia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2193: 62-68.

Silva R.R., R.M. Feitosa, C.R.F. Brandao, and J.L.M. Diniz. 2009. Tropidomyrmex elianae, a new myrmicine ant genus and species from Brazil, tentatively assigned to Solenopsidini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa 2052: 32-48.

Terayama M. 2009. A synopsis of the family Formicidae of Taiwan (Insecta; Hymenoptera). The Research Bulletin of Kanto Gakuen University 17: 81-266.

Yamane S., T.V. Bui, and K. Eguchi. 2008. Opamyrma hungvuong, a new genus and species of ant related toApomyrma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Amblyoponinae). Zootaxa 1767: 55-63.