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Genus Tetraponera

Introduction

Tetraponera is the Old World counterpart of the genus Pseudomyrmex. It is found in the Afrotropical (including Malagasy), Oriental and Australian regions. There are currently about 110 valid species or subspecies names in Tetraponera (Ward, 1990, 2001). Many of these names will prove to be synonyms but, when balanced against the considerable number of undescribed taxa, the total number of species in the genus is probably close to 100. There has been a modest radiation of the genus on the island of Madagascar where there are about 30 species, mostly undescribed. Most species of Tetraponera nest opportunistically in dead hollow twigs, but some species have become specialized inhabitants of ant-plants (Ward, 1991).

Diagnosis, worker caste (from Ward, 1990)

Basal margin of mandible with 0-2 teeth, proximal tooth always lacking; masticatory margin usually with 3-4 (rarely 5-6) teeth, subequal in size. Venter of mandible with a single weak ridge, which is continuous and broadly rounded behind the basal and masticatory margins. Palp formula nearly always 6,4 (reduced to 4p3,3 in one species). Upper (anterodorsal) surface of median clypeal lobe continuous, non-truncate. Median lobe of antennal sclerite rather strongly expanded laterally, covering most of the basal condyle of antenna. Frontal carinae separated by more than basal scape width. Compound eye relatively large, width two-thirds or more of the length. Number of ocelli 3, with frequent reductions to 2 or 0. Metabasitarsal sulcus nearly always present, becoming rather reduced in some species, and absent in a few. Median connection of the spiracular plates of the sting apparatus membranous.

Identification

A revision of the Indo-Australian species was recently completed (Ward, 2001).  Future work will focus on the Afrotropical fauna.  Specimens of Tetraponera can be sent for identification to: Philip S. Ward, Department of Entomology, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Key to Tetraponera species of the Oriental and Australian regions: PDF version (requires Adobe Acrobat).

Literature Cited

  • Ward, P. S. 1990. The ant subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): generic revision and relationship to other formicids. Syst. Entomol. 15:449-489.
  • Ward, P. S. 1991. Phylogenetic analysis of pseudomyrmecine ants associated with domatia-bearing plants. Pp. 335-352 in: Huxley, C. R., Cutler, D. F. (eds.) Ant-plant interactions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, xviii + 601 pp.
  • Ward, P. S. 2001. Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of the ant genus Tetraponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Oriental and Australian regions. Invert. Taxonomy. 15:589-665.
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