A veritable bonanza of myrmecology in recent issues of Zootaxa:
Andrea Lucky and Phil Ward publish their long-awaited spider ant (Leptomyrmex) monograph. Spider ants, if you aren’t familiar with them, are delightfully leggy dolichoderines from the rain forests of Australia, New Guinea, and New Caledonia. Until now, the taxonomy had been something of a mess. Most significant with Lucky & Ward’s work is the full incorporation of male specimens, as these are too frequently ignored in ant systematics. Plus, fantastic illustrations.
Bonnie Blaimer takes on a difficult complex of malagasy acrobat ants (Crematogaster) in the ill-defined subgenus Decacrema. These are tree-dwelling ants of interest for their dominance in forest canopies, as well as their association with sap-feeding insects. Blaimer’s revision is full of valuable natural history data, in addition to being a solid taxonomic revision.
The Chinese Needle Ant (Pachycondyla chinensis) is eating its way across the southeastern U.S., emerging as one of the most ecologically damaging new pest insects of the past few years. A new paper by Yashiro et al bring genetic data to bear on this ant’s native distribution. They determine that the invasive form originated in Japan and circumscribe a similar, geographically overlapping form as a new species, P. nakasujii.
Most invasive ant research occurs in the regions of introduction where the invaders have become pests. But such studies don’t provide ecological context for how pest ants evolved, and native-range studies such as Yashiro’s will become increasingly significant as myrmecologists begin to look deeper into the advent of pest emergence.
Francisco Hita Garcia et al published a 90-page monograph of the Tetramorium weitzekeri species-group. Africa is ground zero for Tetramorium diversity, and this revision is a welcome addition to the taxonomy of a large, common, and often taxonomically confusing genus.