Strumigenys, oh Strumigenys, I give in.

Strumigenys rostrata

Remember the myrmecological disagreement over maintaining Pyramica as a separate genus from the similar Strumigenys?

After fulminating on the issue for some months, I’ve decided to throw my lot in with the synonomy. I give up. They’re all just Strumigenys. I have updated my galleries accordingly.

There has not been any new research to shed light on the problem. Rather, my change is mere opinion. Considering the sizeable morphological variation within these groups and the difficulty separating them on most characters except the mouthparts- which may be prone to ecology-based convergence- I see no reason to reject the most recent taxonomic arrangement by De Andrade & Baroni-Urbani (pdf).

Until the publication of a comprehensive species-level phylogeny, then, long live Strumigenys!

19 thoughts on “Strumigenys, oh Strumigenys, I give in.”

  1. The king of this tiny kingdom can live with this, even though this makes it a (literally) incredibly diverse genus.

    By the way, have you noticed that bugguide has done this too? When asked, I told the administrators I was indifferent about it, until it was better researched.

    One hopes some more considered commentary will illumine us, now that you’ve brought the topic up again.

    1. I’d rather have new data than more considered commentary. For me, my inner pedant just couldn’t deny the fact that the synonymy was done correctly, according to ICZN rules.

  2. Males would likely be an important part of the solution, especially since male genitalia are typically divergent. I can’t imagine Strumigenys males being too commonly collected, though.

      1. This is where some COI barcoding could help match male morphospecies to female-based species and facilitate use of male characters.

  3. Also, quite interesting. I have only been dimly aware of Baroni Urbani’s paper, but now that the synonymy is completely apparent to me, I feel responsibility to call them Strumigenys. It has been interesting to learn about the diversity of, well, Strumigenys from Jack Longino, who knows all of the *other* synonymized genera. I have had a very hard time learning those names (excepting for the bizarre and attractive species formerly attributed to Glamyromyrmex), but have been readily able to recognize Strumigenys and Pyramica.
    This does feel like some of the fun of taxonomy – one learns to recognize lineages via concepts associated with formal names, and then one is forced to reconsider one’s basic assumptions or data when someone suggests a new taxonomic action. Also, this is the first case of a genus-level synonymy with which I have taxonomic experience.
    Thanks for putting this on the table!

    1. *genus-level synonymy of a group with which I have taxonomic experience. (I should have re-read my writing one more time).

  4. Interesting comment, Alex. There is no doubt that all the synonymies proposed by Baroni Urbani & De Andrade were done correctly, according to ICZN.

    I would like to know your opinion regarding the other groups covered by Baroni-Urbani & De Andrade. Do you agree with the other taxonomic changes proposed by the authors?

  5. I agree that Pyramica is now best regarded as a junior synonym of Strumigenys. It has become increasingly apparent that the “Strumigenys syndrome” has arisen more than once from a “Pyramica syndrome” ancestry. I will now adjust the New General Catalogue accordingly.

  6. Wow! I never realised so many people online knew so much about ants! I’m hooked. If anyone wants to check that I’ve got the ID right over here, I’d be grateful… It’s tricky working out in Africa and I’m an ornithologist really…

  7. Alex, I do not want to make any predictions along those lines yet, but it is probable. I am looking forward to what Phil Ward’s AToL project reveals. Then we’ll take it from there. A good molecular study, even if on only involving relatively few species, may provide some guidelines that can be exploited by a more advanced morphological study. We live in hope.

  8. Did you forget that already Roger (1863) did “correctly, according to ICZN rules” the synonymy of Pyramica with Strumigenys? This was universally accepted for 163 years until Pyramica‘s one and only taxonomically incorrect placement was made by Bolton (1999) reviving it as a good genus on invalid characters.
    Further dividing Strumigenys into smaller genera by means of future DNA sequencing or COI barcoding is a plausible but entirely new wish. This wish did not exist when everybody was calling Pyramica most of the same ants. This same wish would be much more justified and needed for other species-rich genera such as Camponotus, Crematogaster, and others with a broader ecological impact.

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