Shattuck revises the Australian Army Ants

Aenictus aratus - Queensland

In my utterly unbiased opinion, Australia hosts the most charismatic ant fauna of all the continents.  Except for their army ants, that is.  While South America is bursting at the seams with scores of Eciton, Labidus, and Neivamyrmex, and Africa has hoardes of Dorylus, Australia’s army ants are limited to a few small species of Aenictus, a genus that is likely a recent arrival, in a geological sense, from Asia.

In any case, Steve Shattuck continues his taxonomic march through the Australian ants, reviewing the Australian Aenictus in a paper appearing Friday in the journal Zootaxa.  Five of Australia’s eight species are endemic to the continent, and three of those are described as new.

Of all the army ants, Aenictus is the least understood.  This new revision puts the genus on solid footing, at least regionally, opening the door for much-needed studies on their ecology, behavior, and evolution.

source: Shattuck, S. O. 2008. Review of the ant genus Aenictus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Australia with notes on A. ceylonicus (Mayr). Zootaxa 1926: 1-19.

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