Map Update #5
October 16, 2010, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Database additions

Four months since I made the last update of the Ant Genera of the World website, and the less that can be told is that it has been a good time for the Ant Genera of the World database. 167 new records have been added concerning 87 genera! Almost a third of the known genera are concerned.

The new records allow to refine our predictions on the unknown distribution of some genera, and so the improvement of future predictions. As a result, 17 new interpolations have been added.

Most of the new records concern Honduras thanks to the work realized within the LLAMA project of Jack Longino, this year helped by Michael Branstetter who discovered two very interesting records among several others; Formica captured on the top of a mountain (this is the southern record of Formica for the New World); and the northern record for Paraponera (the bullet ant).

Lots of new data have been communicated to me for Brazil thanks to Rodrigo Feitosa who does an excellent job therel within the team of Roberto Brandao (who gave a very interesting talk at the IUSSI meeting). Thank you Rodrigo!

Other records came from various papers. One was especially important in this new update and focus on the ants of northern Mexico by Alatorre-Bracamontes and Vasquez-Bolano

During this period, at the beginning of August was the IUSSI meeting in Copenhagen. It was the occasion for me to present my work to many fellow myrmecologists, to see some friends and to develop new contacts. I had a fantastic time there and would like to thank all the people who visited my poster, and for their encouragements. It was great to hear about the website being useful and people to be eager to share new records! I am looking forward to see many of you and have more interesting discussions in the future.

At this point, this is my turn to share a few new records, but this time at a species level. I have found the rare and enigmatic Amblyopone trigognignatha (only collected one time in 1948 from one individual) two years ago during a photo session (confusing it with the more common A. pallipes), and recently the ant was identified from my pictures by Alex Wild. More info is available on this story is available on Myrmecos.net. This summer I also collected ants in different places of North Carolina in order to improve our knowledge on the myrmecofauna of this state. I am glad to announce that I have collected (yes, I collected it this time) what I have identified as Hypoponera inexorata! Finally, very recently, we did some collecting in South Carolina, and we captured Discothyrea testacea, a new record for the state (I had no records of this genus for SC in the database). I also suspect this species to be present in Virginia as I collected populous nests of this species only a few miles of the border of this state, but on the NC side. So if you go in Virginia, collect some leaf litter and you’ll have some good chance to find it!

So take your hand shovel and hang your Winkler bags!



Maps update-4
June 14, 2010, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Database additions, Great websites / blogs

The last update of the ant generic database is only a month old, and I am glad to announce that no less than 110 additions/changes have been made since then.

Most of the modifications this time concerns regions of Asia and especially China where I have been able to find lots of new records for specific provinces. The difficulty I have since the beginning of this project for some regions like China has been to find and then understand the publications. Most of the work realized on Chinese ants has been published in Chinese journal which seems to have a limited distribution. The first difficulty has been to find the references of the different articles and then to obtain a copy of them. Hopefully for me, NCSU has an excellent library service! Thanks to them I have been able to have access to hundreds of articles and books which sometimes are mailed from the other side of the world just for my insatiable bulimia of data collection. The second difficulty is of course the reading. Reading Chinese is not an easy thing to do, especially when you don’t understand it, but fortunately, the format of scientific paper coupled with the access to Internet and tools of translation allow me to extract the information I need. At many occasions, I though about the perseverance of Champollion who pierced the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone.

Anyway, the maps have now 96 new records (green), 11 new interpolations (blue) and 3 new records for introduced genus (orange).

Besides China, a few records have been added for South East Asia, Central Asia, South America or Africa.

While most novelties are only novelties in a sense that I did not came across those references earlier, there is a real new one with the discovery of Asphinctopone by Peter Hawkes in Tanzania (published in Zootaxa).  This new record extends the range of this Ponerine genus on the East coast of Africa and is also at the same time the southern record. Needless to say that this is a pretty cool new record!

I also found very interesting the position of Peter Hawkes who is the director of a company specialized in the monitoring of arthropods diversity in Africa, called Afribugs. I believe that it is during one of those monitoring, that Peter has discovered the new Asphinctopone species. On the website of Afribugs, you could learn about the company but also see some of the awesome specimens collected.

For instance, this nice species of Calyptomyrmex collected also in Tanzania. Take a look!



Long time without posting and many things to report…
May 10, 2010, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Database additions, Maps explanations

Long time without posting and many things to report.

As some of you might now, I spent the beginning of this year in Costa Rica and did a little excursion in Panama. Of course, I took a lot of pictures of ants and other invertebrates, plants, amphibians, lizards … but about 3 weeks ago my computer feel on the ground and since then I have not been able to get my pictures back, at least most of them (hard drive broken). I still have about 250 pictures left, but some series are entirely gone unfortunately.

Now that I started with the bad news, I can continue with the good news. Of course that trip was fantastic and the return was of course a little bit sad. Sometimes, you feel good somewhere and would like to stay longer, much longer…

During my trip at Barro Colorado Island (BCI), I had the chance to meet David Donoso, PhD student in Mike Kaspari’s laboratory. Of course, we talk about ants and David‘s work on BCI, where he is interested by the effect of specific tree presence on the structure of leaf litter ants. David is also interested to develop the knowledge and the taxonomy of ants from Ecuador, where David comes from, and at this effect, he orientates me to some of his work (published in a French journal!).

David also works on a revision of the very interesting genus Tatuidris (pictures on Antweb). It was the first time that I had the chance to see this beautiful ant under a microscope and they are totally amazing! David provided me some records that I did not know about Tatuidris, and so the new map is now updated!

Let’s continue with the new additions of the database, and let me thanks Dr. Mostafa Sharaf from Riyadh who provides me some of his articles and new discoveries about the ants of Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  Among the main additions, notice the presence of Carebara and Solenopsis in Saudi Arabia; the potential presence of Leptanilla in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the removal of Lasius from Egypt (probably a misidentification).

Also, note that in the last paper of Omid Paknia and collaborators published a new article on the ants of Iran in Asian Myrmecology. They provide new generic records for DolichoderusMyrmecina, Proformica, Pyramica, Stenamma and Strongylognathus, as well as a total of 32 new species records.

Here is an overview of the new records:

What have changed since the last major update (12th Decembre 2009):

–          59 new records representing 43 genera

–          10 new interpolations for 6 genera

–          6 records of genera that have been introduced in a region

–          5 records removed (misidentification in the original paper) for 2 genera (Lasius and Dicroaspis)

Note that the change of Paratrechina into Nylanderia, Paraparatrechina and Paratrechina is not yet effective on the maps.

Finally I would like to thank those of you who read this blog and communicate with me to improve the maps. It is always a pleasure, thank you!



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.



Maps update-2
December 12, 2009, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Database additions, Maps explanations

Despite the busy schedule of the past two months (see previous post), I have been able to find some new records and filled a few gaps. Here is a summary of the new modifications realized on the maps (and so in the database):

A total of 86 new records (green), 9 interpolations (blue), 2 exotic presence  (orange) and one removal have been included.

Most of the new records are scattered around the globe, and for their majority turned out to be confirmation of our interpolations (blue on the maps). Two regions in particular have been improved. Tthe first one is Acre in Brazil  (+32 new records; + 1 exotic) which has been covered those past years by Dr. Marco Antonio de Oliveira during his PhD.

The second main addition is for Pennsylvania (USA) which curiously despite his big size and large human population did not seemed to have been covered by myrmecologists pretty well in the past. Antweb now offers a list of ants for this state compiled by W. Barkley Butler (+7 new generic records).

A revision of the oriental Anillomyrma in the online earlier of Myrmecological News by Katsuyuki Eguchi, Tuan Viet Bui, David M. General, and Gary D. Alpert provides a new record for the Philippines, and the removal of this genus from Madagascar. Some incertitudes about the potential presence of this genus in Africa remains with a potential record from Tanzania by Dr. Hamish Robertson. However the authors could not have confirmation from Dr. Robertson (and neither do I). If anyone has some information about it, please let me know.

Finally, an interesting new record of the Neotropical genus Gracilidris has been brought to me by Alex Wild (see his excellent blog Myrmecos). A new record is available on Antweb for Colombia. This record represents the western and northern record for the genus and is disjunct with the rest of the range distribution which could be qualified as east-central South America.

I also want to thank Dr. Martin Bollazzi for some of the new records he provides me for Uruguay.

If some of you, dear readers has new data, as always, do not hesitate to contact me. Everybody will benefit from new additions and accurate maps.



450
October 8, 2009, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Database additions | Tags:

450. That’s not the title of a neo peplum for body-builders, but the number of new generic records that have been added to our database, and so to the maps, since we started the website last May.

This has been possible thanks to the help of some myrmecologists that sent me papers that I did not know (thank you!), new articles published, such as a list of the ants of Tabasco  (Del Toro et al. 2009), and also because I tried to track deep into some journals and books to find some more data (I don’t want to read anymore Chinese book on ants for the next week). Add to this, 5 new genera that have been described, and you get the count. I should not forget to add a few records from Laos that one of undergrad student (I wish everyone to have one like her working with you) brought me back from a trip she did in Asia.

The good thing about it, is that most of them had been predicted to be present (blue on maps) in the previous version, several were uncertain, and for one of them was predicted as absent (shame on me, but 1 on 450 it is 0.2% of mistake, so it is not that bad).

The changes concern 135 genera (about 45% of the extant genera), and the maps are now updated on the website!

Hopefully, in a few months, I could make a post untitled 500!