ArticlePDF Available

A New Social Parasite in the Ant Genus Ectatomma F. Smith (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ectatomminae)


Abstract and Figures

Ectatomma parasiticum Feitosa & Fresneau, a new ant species socially parasitic on Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier), is described from gynes discovered in Apazapan, state of Veracruz, Mexico, and reared in the laboratory. Ectatomma parasiticum is the first social parasite described in the Ectatomminae. This species can be distinguished from its host by morphological and behavioral features characteristic of the inquilines known in other ant subfamilies including reduced size, thickened petiole, and agonistic interactions with host species.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Accepted by J.Longino: 17 Jan. 2008; published: 27 Feb. 2008 47
ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition)
ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition)
Copyright © 2008 · Magnolia Press
Zootaxa 1713: 4752 (2008)
A new social parasite in the ant genus Ectatomma F. Smith
(Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ectatomminae)
1Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Nazaré 481, 04263-000, Ipiranga, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
2Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée (CNRS UMR 7153), Université Paris-Nord, 99, Avenue J. -B. Clément, 93430,
Villetaneuse, France. E-mail:
3Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Av. P.H. Rolfs s/n, 36570-000, Viçosa, MG, Brazil.
4Laboratório de Mirmecologia, Convênio UESC/CEPEC, Centro de Pesquisas do Cacau, C.P. 7, 45600-000, Itabuna, BA, Brazil.
5Departamento de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, 45650-000, Ilhéus, BA, Brazil.
6Instituto de Ecologia, A. C., Km 2.5, antigua carretera a Coatepec, A.P. 63, 91000, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.
Ectatomma parasiticum Feitosa & Fresneau, a new ant species socially parasitic on Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier),
is described from gynes discovered in Apazapan, state of Veracruz, Mexico, and reared in the laboratory. Ectatomma
parasiticum is the first social parasite described in the Ectatomminae. This species can be distinguished from its host by
morphological and behavioral features characteristic of the inquilines known in other ant subfamilies including reduced
size, thickened petiole, and agonistic interactions with host species.
Key words: Ectatomminae, Ectatomma tuberculatum, Social parasitism, Taxonomy, Mexico
The ant genus Ectatomma includes 14 relatively large species occurring predominantly in the Neotropical
Region, with the widespread species Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier) also occurring in the Neartic Region
(Bolton et al. 2006; Fernández & Ospina 2003). These ants occur in a variety of warm habitats, and because
they are often abundant and conspicuous, they figure prominently in ecological studies (Kugler & Brown
1982). Species of Ectatomma are generalized predators of a variety of small arthropods and earthworms in
addition to collecting honeydew from homopterous insects and nectar from plant sources (e.g. Weber 1946;
Wheeler 1986; Dejean & Lachaud 1992; Pie 2004).
Instances of social parasitism in ants have a patchy taxonomic and geographic occurrence, being well
known among north temperate ants in the subfamilies Formicinae and Myrmicinae (Wilson 1971; Hölldobler
& Wilson 1990). Hora et al. (2005) demonstrated the parasitic nature of microgynes found in colonies of a
Mexican population of E. tuberculatum. These individuals concentrate their reproductive efforts almost exclu-
sively on the production of sexual offspring, and they are genetically distinct and reproductively isolated from
their hosts.
48 · Zootaxa 1713 © 2008 Magnolia Press
In the present paper we describe the microgyne from Hora et al. (2005) as a new species, Ectatomma par-
asiticum Feitosa & Fresneau, a social parasite. It is the fifteenth species described in the genus and represents
the first case of social parasitism in the subfamily Ectatomminae.
Material and methods
The species described in the present study was obtained while collecting colonies of E. tuberculatum during
fieldwork in Apazapan, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico (19º19’38”N; 96º43’21”W) from September 1999 to
July 2000. The parasitic gynes were promptly distinguished by eye on the basis of their reduced size com-
pared to E. tuberculatum gynes. Colonies were reared in laboratory and new parasitic specimens were pro-
duced (about 65 gynes from eight different colonies). Depository collections are referred to by the following
CPDC Centro de Pesquisas do Cacau, Itabuna, Bahia, Brazil.
INEC Instituto de Ecologia, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.
LACM Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles, California, USA.
MZSP Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
UNCB Museo de Historia Natural del Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Bogotá, Colombia.
USNM National Museum of Natural History; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images of Ectatomma parasiticum were made at MZSP with a
LEO 440® microscope. The specimen was previously cleaned in acetone, critical-point dried in a Balzer (Bal-
Tec® CPD 030), and coated with gold (Bal-Tec® SCD 050). Measurements were obtained with a micrometric
reticule and using the scale of the SEM. All measurements are given in mm and the abbreviations used are:
HL head length; the maximum measurable length of head capsule excluding mandibles, measured in
full-face view, in a straight line from the mid-point of the anterior clypeal margin to the mid-point of
the vertexal margin.
HW head width; the maximum width of the head capsule measured in full-face view, excluding the com-
pound eyes.
SL antennal scape length; the chord length of the antennal scape, excluding the basal condyle and its
EL eye length; the maximum measurable length of eyes in profile.
PW pronotal width; in dorsal view, the maximum width of the pronotum.
WL mesosoma length (Weber´s length); the diagonal length of mesosoma in profile, from the mid-point
of the anterior pronotal declivity to the posterior basal angle of the metapleuron.
PTL petiole length; in dorsal view, the maximum length of the petiole.
PTW petiole width; in dorsal view, the maximum width of the petiole.
CI cephalic index. HW x 100/HL.
SI scape index. SL x 100/HW.
OI optical index. EL x 100/HW.
PTI petiolar index. PTL x 100/PTW.
Zootaxa 1713 © 2008 Magnolia Press · 49
Ectatomma parasiticum Feitosa & Fresneau, sp. nov.
Figures 1, 2
Holotype gyne. MEXICO: Apazapan, Veracruz, 19º19’38”N 96º43’21”W, ix.1999, D. Fresneau col. [INEC].
Paratypes. same data as holotype (1 gyne) [CPDC]; (1 gyne) [UNCB]; (1 gyne) [INEC]; vii.2000, D.
Fresneau & R. Hora cols. (1 gyne) [LACM]; (2 gynes) [MZSP]; (1 gyne) [USNM].
Diagnosis. Size relatively small (WL approximately 3.80 mm); clypeus and frontal area without sculp-
ture; antennal scapes longer than the maximum head width (SI > 108); petiole relatively thick in lateral view.
Gyne description. Holotype (paratypes): HL 2.10 (2.06–2.16); HW 1.85 (1.73–1.88); SL 2.04 (1.92–
2.06); EL 0.51 (0.50–0.58); PW 1.69 (1.62–1.77); WL 3.88 (3.65–4.04); PTL 0.79 (0.78–0.88); PTW 0.92
(0.92–1.07); CI 88.07 (84.11–88.89); SI 110.42 (108.57–113.04); OI 27.50 (27.50–31.25); PTI 85 (82.14–
85.71). Color yellowish brown to dark reddish brown, including appendages. Mandibles finely and densely
striate, with sparse piligerous punctures; clypeus, genae, and frontal area predominantly smooth, but opaque;
dorsal surface of head densely and coarsely reticulated, except for the areas of antennal articulations, which
are finely punctate; ventral surface of head with sparse longitudinal striae; antennal scapes finely and longitu-
dinally striate. Mesosoma with variously oriented costulae, from sparse and transverse on dorsum of prono-
tum and propodeum to dense and subconcentric on the dorsum of scutum and scutellum; forecoxae with
dense, fine, regular transverse striation; legs mostly smooth and shining. Lateral and posterior faces of petiolar
node with sparse, short, longitudinal costulae; sculpture of gaster consisting of arched, transverse costulae,
becoming gradually finer from first to terminal segment.
Pilosity cream-colored. Body covered by relatively sparse, long, suberect hairs; antennal scapes and legs
with short, suberect hairs; antennal funiculi and tarsi covered by fine apressed pubescence.
Head subrectangular, with weakly convex lateral borders and vertexal margin straight; masticatory mar-
gins of mandibles multidenticulate and with a large apical tooth; clypeus strongly convex anteriorly; frontal
lobes reduced; scapes in repose fairly surpassing the posterolateral margins of vertex; funicular segments
gradually thickened distally; compound eyes placed near the posterolateral portions of head; ocelli present
and reduced in size.
Pronotum with a distinct median eminence directed forward and a conspicuous pair of dorsolateral
(humeral) projections; scutum large and rounded; notauli almost indistinct among sculpturation; parapsidial
lines feebly visible and subparallel; scutoscutellar sulcus deeply impressed; scutellum relatively narrow and
strongly convex, in lateral view; dorsal face of propodeum meeting the declivous face in a pair of reduced,
blunt teeth; propodeal spiracle elliptical. Wing venation fully developed. Forewing with a weakly colored
stigma; longitudinal veins Sc+R, SR, M, Cu, and A present; SR extending distally beyond stigma, forming 1R
and 2R cells; cross vein 1r vestigial, not forming the 2R cell; M and Cu also extend distally as tubular veins
for most of their length; A not extending beyond the junction with Cu; C, R, Cu, 1M, 1Cu, and SR cells
closed. Hind wing with Sc+R extending beyond point where they connect to M, which continues as a tubular
vein as much as Sc+R and then extends as spectral vein to wing distal border; basally M+Cu extending as a
tubular vein beyond junction with Anal vein, which continues shortly beyond this point; seven submedian
hamuli present.
Petiole ventrally carinate; in lateral view, petiolar node thick and subtriangular; anterior slope nearly con-
cave and posterior slope slightly convex. Sternite of first gastral segment with a distinct anterior projection.
Worker. Unknown (but see comments bellow).
Male. Unknown.
Etymology. The specific epithet is a reference to the parasitic nature of this species.
50 · Zootaxa 1713 © 2008 Magnolia Press
FIGURE 1. Paratype gyne of Ectatomma parasiticum: A, head in full face view; B, lateral view; C, dorsal view.
Comments. Gynes of the socially parasitic Ectatomma parasiticum can be distinguished from the gynes
of its host species, E. tuberculatum, by the following features: sparser sculpture on the body; smaller size (Fig.
2), with WL approximately 3.80 mm (around 5.40 mm in E. tuberculatum); clypeus and frontal area devoid of
any sculpture (usually longitudinally striate in E. tuberculatum); antennal scapes longer than the maximum
head width, with SI > 108 (< 99 in E. tuberculatum); propodeal spines reduced to minute teeth; and petiole
Zootaxa 1713 © 2008 Magnolia Press · 51
thicker in lateral view (flattened anteroposteriorly in E. tuberculatum). The reduced size and widener petiole
of E. parasiticum are also characteristic of the inquiline syndrome in other ant species (Wilson 1984; Rad-
chenko & Elmes 2003).
Males produced by parasitized colonies were of a uniform morphology and indistinguishable from males
of E. tuberculatum. Thus it remains unknown if males of E. parasiticum are lacking, present but not yet
observed, or observed but indistinguishable from E. tuberculatum. According to Hora et al. (2005), one of the
10 colonies of E. parasiticum reared in laboratory produced four small "workers." However, these workers
presented a developed spermatheca and six to 10 ovarioles, in contrast to typical workers of E. tuberculatum
which lack the spermatheca and possess only one to four ovarioles (Fénerón & Billen 1996; Hora et al. 2001).
The presence of developed reproductive structures in these specimens suggests that they are possibly interme-
diate (intercaste?) reproductive forms of E. parasiticum and not true workers.
Up to now, the occurrence of this species is restricted to Apazapan, state of Veracruz, Mexico. However,
its host, E. tuberculatum, is widely distributed in the Neotropics, from Mexico to northern Argentina. We
expect that the excavation and detailed examination of E. tuberculatum colonies in different localities could
reveal new populations of E. parasiticum.
A detailed behavioral and genetic study on the interaction between E. tuberculatum and E. parasiticum
(so far undescribed and treated as “microgynes”) was conducted by Hora et al. (2005). Gynes and workers of
E. tuberculatum and gynes of E. parasiticum were sequenced for the cyt b region and the results showed two
haplotypes. The haplotypes differed in seven variable sites, with a nucleotide sequence difference of 0.93%.
They clearly discriminate E. parasiticum from the group composed of workers and gynes of E. tuberculatum.
According to the findings of Hora et al. (op. cit.), E. parasiticum is a genetically distinct social parasite pro-
ducing of almost exclusively sexual offspring. The co-occurrence of E. parasiticum and E. tuberculatum in
the field (nine mixed colonies found) suggests that the parasite usurps established colonies of the host, but
does not kill the resident gynes. Agonistic interactions were also observed, exclusively from workers and
gynes of E. tuberculatum against the parasites.
FIGURE 2. Morphometric scatterplot of head width by scape length, differentiating gynes of Ectatomma parasiticum
and E. tuberculatum. Measurements are in mm.
52 · Zootaxa 1713 © 2008 Magnolia Press
Microgynes are also found in Ectatomma ruidum; however, this is a truly gyne-polymorphic species, and
the offspring of both microgynes and normal gynes consist of workers, males, and both microgynes and nor-
mal gynes. It was therefore suggested that the two gyne morphs in E. ruidum represent alternative phenotypes
adapted to different ways of dispersal and colony founding. Ectatomma ruidum microgynes are thought to dis-
perse and to found new colonies solitarily, while the macrogynes are a stationary morph (Lachaud et al. 1999).
The study of Hora et al. (2005) and the present paper raise the possibility of the occurrence of similar
undescribed social parasites within other basal ant lineages.
The authors would like to thank Alex Wild, Alexander Radchenko, Riita Savolainen, and Jack Longino for the
critical reading and the invaluable comments on the manuscript. Lara M. Guimarães took the SEM images.
Rogério Rosa da Silva kindly prepared the morphometric scatterplot. We also acknowledge M. Favila, L.
Quiroz (INEC, Mexico), C. Rojas, A. Wolf, and K. Wolf for the technical support during fieldwork. RRH
received financial support from FAPEMIG and CAPES, Brazil, Project CAPES/COFECUB no. 244/98-II.
RMF and JHCD acknowledge the research grant received from FAPESP and CNPq, respectively. This work
was partially supported by BRI (Université Paris-Noird, France).
Bolton, B., Alpert, G., Ward, P.S., Naskrecki, P. (2006) Bolton's Catalogue of Ants of the World: 1758 –2005. Harvard
University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, CD-ROM.
Dejean, A. & Lachaud, J.-P. (1992) Growth-related changes in predation behavior in incipient colonies of the ponerine
ant Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier). Insectes Sociaux, 39, 129–143.
Fénerón, R. & Billen, J. (1996) Ovarian cycle in Ectatomma tuberculatum workers (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Journal of
Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 29, 79–85.
Fernández, F. & Ospina, M. (2003) Sinopsis de las hormigas de la región Neotropical. In: Fernández, F. (Ed), Introduc-
ción a las Hormigas de la Región Neotropical. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von
Humbolt, Bogotá, Colombia, pp.49–64.
Hölldobler, B. & Wilson, E.O. (1990) The Ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 732 pp.
Hora, R.R., Doums, C., Poteaux, C., Fénerón, R., Valenzuela, J., Heinze, J. & Fresneau, D. (2005) Small queens in the
ant Ectatomma tuberculatum: a new case of social parasitism. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 59, 285–292.
Hora, R.R., Fénerón, R., Valenzuela, J., Favila, M. E. & Fresneau, D. (2001) Queen-size dimorphism in the ant
Ectatomma tuberculatum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae). Sociobiology, 38, 407–420.
Kugler, C. & Brown, W.L. (1982) Revisionary and other studies on the ant genus Ectatomma, including the descriptions
of two new species. Search: Agriculture, 24, 1–7.
Lachaud, J.-P., Cadena, A., Schatz, B., Pérez-Lachaud, G. & Ibarra-Núñez, G. (1999) Queen dimorphism and reproduc-
tive capacity in the ponerine ant, Ectatomma ruidum Roger. Oecologia, 120, 515–523.
Pie, M.R. (2004) Foraging ecology and behaviour of the ponerine ant Ectatomma opaciventre Roger in a Brazilian
savannah. Journal of Natural History, 38, 717–729.
Radchenko A.G. & Elmes G.W. (2003) A taxonomic revision of the socially parasitic Myrmica ants (Hymenoptera: For-
micidae) of the Palaearctic Region, Annales Zoologici, 53, 217–243.
Weber, N.A. (1946) Two common ponerine ants of possible economic significance, Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier)
and E. ruidum Roger. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 48, 1–16.
Wheeler, D.E. (1986) Ectatomma tuberculatum foraging biology and association with Crematogaster (Hymenoptera,
Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society America, 79, 300–303.
Wilson, E.O. (1971) The Insect Societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 548 pp.
Wilson, E.O. (1984) Tropical social parasites in the ant genus Pheidole, with an analysis of the anatomical parasitic syn-
drome. Insectes Sociaux, 31, 316–334.
... Some of these problems were partly solved by Kugler and Brown in 1982, who suggested some synonymies and recognized 12 species. Recently, three new species were described or redescribed (Almeida 1986(Almeida , 1987Arias-Penna 2006;Feitosa et al. 2008), but nothing is known on their relationships. ...
... Microgynes are present in species of the ant subfamilies Pseudomyrmecinae (Janzen 1973), Formicinae (Heinze and Hölldobler 1993), Myrmicinae (Elmes 1991;McInnes and Tschinkel 1995;Hamaguchi and Kinomura 1996;Schlick-Steiner et al. 2005;Lenoir et al. 2010), Amblyoponinae (Molet et al. 2007) and Ectatomminae (Lachaud et al. 1999b). On the other hand, small queens in E. tuberculatum colonies are inquiline parasites that have been described as a different species, Ectatomma parasiticum (Hora et al. 2005(Hora et al. , 2009Feitosa et al. 2008). Inquiline parasite queens lack worker progeny but coexist in the nest with the host queen(s), a type of permanent parasitism without slavery (Buschinger 2009). ...
... Clade 1 comprises three described species with a predominant distribution in South America: Ectatomma edentatum, E. muticum and Ectatomma suzanae. Clade 2 contains the wide-range E. tuberculatum, its recently described inquiline parasite, E. parasiticum (Feitosa et al. 2008), and Ectatomma vizottoi from Brazil. One of the remaining principal clades, clade 3, encompasses the other wide-range species E. ruidum, which is a sister to the Central American endemic Ectatomma gibbum. ...
Full-text available
Due to its high biodiversity and its complex climatic and geological history, the Neotropical region has caught the attention of evolutionary and conservation biologists. The Neotropics have an understudied and probably extensive cryptic diversity, stemming from old lineages that have persisted through time with highly similar morphology or from new morphologically undifferentiated sibling species. The wide-ranging Neotropical ant genus Ectatomma currently has only 15 described species, some of which present limited distribution. These ants provide an excellent system for the study of diversification and cryptic diversity in the Neotropics. Ectatomma also displays queen-size dimorphism in some northern populations of its two most common species: a case of true microgyny and a recently described parasitic species. We performed a phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of Ectatomma species using two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear gene. We also explored the relationship between the history of the genus and the appearance of minia-turized queens. Our analysis recovered a monophyletic Ectatomma that originated in the Parana region of South America. We recorded three likely events of colonization of the Caribbean-Mesoamerican region. We also detected ample evidence of cryptic divergence that deserves a full taxonomic revision of the genus. Miniature queens-microgynes and parasites-represent two independent evolutionary events that appeared in the recent history of the genus.
... (Smith, 1936). Este gênero apresenta potencial para estudos evolutivos por apresentar tanto parasitismo social quanto microgínia (populações da mesma espécie com rainhas menores), que parecem ser eventos recentes na história evolutiva das espécies do gênero (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). Na ESEC do Rio Ronuro o gênero foi amostrado na vegetação e no solo. ...
... However, the distribution of Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier, 1792) extends to Texas, in the EUA (Smith, 1936). This genus presents potential for evolutionary studies because it presents both social parasitism and microgynia (populations of the same species with smaller queens), which appear to be recent events in the evolutionary history of species of the genus (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). At Rio Ronuro ESEC, the genus was sampled in vegetation and soil. ...
Full-text available
This study presents a preliminary inventory of butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea) in the Rio Ronuro Ecological Station in Brazil. Butterflies were sampled in eight plots dis�tributed in three sites located between the Municipality of Nova Ubiratã and Paranatin�ga and Santiago do Norte. We sampled 30 species of butterflies, in four families, Nymph�alidae, Pieridae, Papilionidae e Riodinidae. The sampling period was short and lacking temporal repetitions, however considering the low numbers of traps installed (36) and sampling during the rainy season our results indicate a large potential diversity of butter�flies to be explored in the future in the station.
... (Smith, 1936). Este gênero apresenta potencial para estudos evolutivos por apresentar tanto parasitismo social quanto microgínia (populações da mesma espécie com rainhas menores), que parecem ser eventos recentes na história evolutiva das espécies do gênero (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). Na ESEC do Rio Ronuro o gênero foi amostrado na vegetação e no solo. ...
... However, the distribution of Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier, 1792) extends to Texas, in the EUA (Smith, 1936). This genus presents potential for evolutionary studies because it presents both social parasitism and microgynia (populations of the same species with smaller queens), which appear to be recent events in the evolutionary history of species of the genus (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). At Rio Ronuro ESEC, the genus was sampled in vegetation and soil. ...
Full-text available
Arthropods are important components of edaphic environments, being responsible for numerous processes related to the decomposition and cycling of matter. Studies on their diversity are important for understanding the ecosystem dynamics. This study aimed to evaluate the composition of the edaphic community of arthropods, mainly arachnids, in a Cerrado-Amazônia transition area at the Rio Ronuro Ecological Station, in Nova Ubiratã, Mato Grosso. Arthropods were sampled in October/November 2016 and in February/March 2017, using pitfall traps. Opiliones were collected manually. As a result 9,611 arthropods were obtained, distributed among Hexapoda, Arachnida, Diplopoda and Chilopoda and 21 taxonomic orders. Hymenoptera (4,984 ind.; 51.9%), Diptera (2,299 ind.; 23.9%), Collembola (660 ind.; 6.9%), Isoptera (581 ind.; 6%) and Coleoptera (435 ind.; 4.5%) predominated. Among the spiders (220 ind.; 2.3%) were identified 24 families and nine behavioral guilds. Zodariidae (60 ind.; 28%), Lycosidae (51 ind.; 22%) and Theridiidae (32 ind.; 14%) predominated. The Opiliones (15 ind.; 0.2%) were Cosmetidae (10 ind.; 66.6%), Stygnidae (3 ind.; 20%) and Manaosbiidae (2 ind.; 13.4%). The results indicate that Rio Ronuro ESEC presents considerable edaphic biodiversity, corroborating its importance as an area for the conservation of Southern Amazonia.
... (Smith, 1936). Este gênero apresenta potencial para estudos evolutivos por apresentar tanto parasitismo social quanto microgínia (populações da mesma espécie com rainhas menores), que parecem ser eventos recentes na história evolutiva das espécies do gênero (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). Na ESEC do Rio Ronuro o gênero foi amostrado na vegetação e no solo. ...
... However, the distribution of Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier, 1792) extends to Texas, in the EUA (Smith, 1936). This genus presents potential for evolutionary studies because it presents both social parasitism and microgynia (populations of the same species with smaller queens), which appear to be recent events in the evolutionary history of species of the genus (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). At Rio Ronuro ESEC, the genus was sampled in vegetation and soil. ...
Full-text available
With a territory of 90,680,600 hectares, the state of Mato Grosso possesses a broad range of natural beauty and rich biodiversity and currently houses 46 state conservation units that encompass 3.2 million hectares. A significant part of this biodiversity, however, remains un�known due to limited knowledge generation and dissemination. Rio Ronuro Ecological Station is one of five existing state ecological stations in Mato Grossso. It stands out for being located in the central region of the state, specifically comprising the transition between the Cerrado and Amazonia biomes (area with Savanna/Seasonal Forest/Ombrophilous Forest), bestowing it with the potential to harbor rich biodiversity and thus unique relevance within State System of Conservation Units. In compliance with the objective for which Rio Ronuro Ecological Station was created – protection of existing ecosystems, development of scientific research and conservation ed�ucation – State Secretary of Environment of Mato Grosso (SEMA-MT), together with the technical cooperation of Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA) and researchers of Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), and support from Biodiversity Research Pro�gram (PPBIO), contributed efforts to survey and catalog the station’s flora and fauna. Scientific research developed in the conservation unit has broadened knowledge of biodiver�sity, provided training for students and local community agents, encouraged bioprospecting studies of species with potential that occur in the region, and made this publication possi�ble, which brings together all the systematic studies carried out to date. The knowledge gathered in this work will contribute to the processes of environmental edu�cation and conservation of biodiversity, as well as provide academic information for society in general. This knowledge will support the decision-making process for public policies for Rio Ronuro Ecological Station, enable its valorization and acknowledge the ecological pro�cesses that maintain it. Mauren Lazzaretti Mato Grosso State Secretary of the Environment
... (Smith, 1936). Este gênero apresenta potencial para estudos evolutivos por apresentar tanto parasitismo social quanto microgínia (populações da mesma espécie com rainhas menores), que parecem ser eventos recentes na história evolutiva das espécies do gênero (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). Na ESEC do Rio Ronuro o gênero foi amostrado na vegetação e no solo. ...
... However, the distribution of Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier, 1792) extends to Texas, in the EUA (Smith, 1936). This genus presents potential for evolutionary studies because it presents both social parasitism and microgynia (populations of the same species with smaller queens), which appear to be recent events in the evolutionary history of species of the genus (Feitosa et al., 2008;Nettel-Hernanz et al., 2015). At Rio Ronuro ESEC, the genus was sampled in vegetation and soil. ...
Full-text available
Os macrofungos têm sido pouco estudados nos diferentes biomas brasileiros e estima-se que há muitas espécies ainda a serem descritas. Este capítulo apresenta um levantamento incluindo a descrição de dezesseis espécies de Basidomycota (cogumelos lamelares e fungos clavarioides) coletados na Estação Ecológica do Rio Ronuro, Mato Grosso. Para cada espécie são apresentados dados taxonômicos e de distribuição geográfica no Brasil. Dez espécies são registradas pela primeira vez para o estado do Mato Grosso.
... Alternatively, these patterns have also been argued to be a product of historic sampling bias for ants in the northern hemisphere (Kutter, 1968;Wilson, 1971Wilson, , 1984. Fortunately, our knowledge about ant biodiversity in tropical regions has made significant progress in recent decades (see for example : Delabie et al., 2015;Fernández, 2003;Fernández et al., 2019;Fisher & Bolton, 2016;Shattuck, 2000), and simultaneously numerous ant social parasite species were discovered in tropical and subtropical regions (Bharti, Radchenko, et al., 2016;Blaimer, 2012a;De Souza et al., 2007;Dubovikoff & Longino, 2004;Feitosa et al., 2008;Fischer et al., 2020;Guerrero et al., 2010;Longino, 2003Longino, , 2006Longino, , 2007 Bacci, 2010;Rabeling et al., 2015Rabeling et al., , 2019Schultz et al., 1998). In fact, reviewing taxonomic studies including ant social parasites showed that the majority of newly discovered ant social parasites in the past two decades were described from the Neotropics (Appendix S1, Fig. S1.1). ...
Full-text available
Aim One of the most consistent global biogeographic patterns is the latitudinal diversity gradient where species richness peaks within the equatorial tropics and decreases towards the poles. Here, we explore the global biogeography of socially parasitic ant species, which comprises the most diverse group of social parasites in the Hymenoptera. We test the biogeographic hypothesis that ant social parasites are distributed along an inverse latitudinal diversity gradient (iLDG) by peaking in diversity outside of the equatorial tropics, which would contrast with the biogeographic pattern observed in free‐living, non‐parasitic ant species. Location Global. Taxon Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Methods We assembled a comprehensive biogeographic dataset consisting of 6001 geographic distribution records for all 371 taxonomically described socially parasitic ant species. We used phylogenetic and taxonomic studies to estimate the number of independent evolutionary origins of ant social parasitism to directly compare species richness with the number of species representing independent evolutionary origins of social parasitism across a latitudinal gradient. In addition, we compared ant social parasite diversity across biogeographic regions using rarefaction to account for different sampling efforts. Finally, we tested for a correlation between latitude and the proportion of ant social parasite species within regional ant faunae. Results The geographic distribution records and the inferred 91 independent evolutionary origins of socially parasitic life histories in ants show that both species richness and the number of species representing independent evolutionary origins of social parasitism peak in the northern hemisphere outside of the equatorial tropics. Based on rarefaction curves, northern latitude regions harbour the most ant social parasite species, but the diversity of independent evolutionary origins is not significantly different between northern and southern hemispheres. The proportion of ant social parasite species within regional faunae is tightly correlated with latitude only in the northern hemisphere. Main conclusions The iLDG of ant social parasites contrasts with the biogeographic pattern observed in free‐living, non‐parasitic ant species and appears to be driven by large species radiations as well as by the presence of specialized life histories exclusive to the northern hemisphere.
... Small queen morphs, referred to as 'microgynes' , are in many species associated with alternative dispersal strategies and polygyny itself, and in some cases microgynes were shown to favor the production of sexual offspring over workers, providing the basis for reproductive cheating 30 . In some cases, microgynes are in fact considered intra-specific inquiline parasites 66,77 , whereas in other cases microgynous forms were raised to the species level as obligate inter-specific inquiline parasites 78,79 . Queen size polymorphism is heavily associated with the evolution of social parasitism based on two major lines of evidence. ...
Full-text available
Social parasites exploit the brood care behavior of their hosts to raise their own offspring. Social parasites are common among eusocial Hymenoptera and exhibit a wide range of distinct life history traits in ants, bees, and wasps. In ants, obligate inquiline social parasites are workerless (or nearly-so) species that engage in lifelong interactions with their hosts, taking advantage of the existing host worker forces to reproduce and exploit host colonies’ resources. Inquiline social parasites are phylogenetically diverse with approximately 100 known species that evolved at least 40 times independently in ants. Importantly, ant inquilines tend to be closely related to their hosts, an observation referred to as ‘Emery’s Rule’. Polygyny, the presence of multiple egg-laying queens, was repeatedly suggested to be associated with the origin of inquiline social parasitism, either by providing the opportunity for reproductive cheating, thereby facilitating the origin of social parasite species, and/or by making polygynous species more vulnerable to social parasitism via the acceptance of additional egg-laying queens in their colonies. Although the association between host polygyny and the evolution of social parasitism has been repeatedly discussed in the literature, it has not been statistically tested in a phylogenetic framework across the ants. Here, we conduct a meta-analysis of ant social structure and social parasitism, testing for an association between polygyny and inquiline social parasitism with a phylogenetic correction for independent evolutionary events. We find an imperfect but significant over-representation of polygynous species among hosts of inquiline social parasites, suggesting that while polygyny is not required for the maintenance of inquiline social parasitism, it (or factors associated with it) may favor the origin of socially parasitic behavior. Our results are consistent with an intra-specific origin model for the evolution of inquiline social parasites by sympatric speciation but cannot exclude the alternative, inter-specific allopatric speciation model. The diversity of social parasite behaviors and host colony structures further supports the notion that inquiline social parasites evolved in parallel across unrelated ant genera in the formicoid clade via independent evolutionary pathways.
... Currently, the most comprehensive work including an identification key for the species in the genus is the revision by Kugler and Brown (1982). However, this work does not include the species Ectatomma parasiticum Feitosa and Fresneau, in Feitosa et al. (2008), E. suzannae Almeida (1986) andE. vizottoi Almeida (1987). ...
Full-text available
Uncovering the evolutionary history of the subfamilies Ectatomminae and Heteroponerinae, or ectaheteromorphs, is key to understanding a major branch of the ant tree of life. Despite their diversity and ecological importance, phylogenetic relationships in the group have not been well explored. One particularly suitable tool for resolving phylogeny is the use of ultraconserved elements (UCEs), which have been shown to be ideal markers at a variety of evolutionary time scales. In the present study, we enriched and sequenced 2,127 UCEs from 135 specimens of ectaheteromorph ants and investigated phylogeny using a variety of model-based phylogenomic methods. Trees recovered from partitioned maximum-likelihood and species-tree analyses were well resolved and largely congruent. The results are consistent with an expanded concept of Ectatomminae that now includes the subfamily Heteroponerinae new synonym and its single tribe Heteroponerini new combination. Eleven monophyletic groups are recognized as genera: Acanthoponera, Alfariastatus revived, Boltonia Camacho and Feitosa new genus, Ectatomma, Gnamptogenys, Heteroponera, Holcoponerastatus revived, Poneracanthastatus revived, Rhytidoponera, Stictoponerastatus revived, and Typhlomyrmex. The new phylogenetic framework and classification proposed here will shed light on the study of Ectatomminae taxonomy and systematics, as well as on the morphological evolution of the groups that it comprises.
... In ants, social parasitism has been reported in six subfamilies: Dolichoderinae, Formicinae, Myrmeciinae, Pseudomyrmecinae, Myrmicinae (reviewed by Tinaut & Ruano, 1999) and Ectatomminae (Hora et al., 2005;Feitosa et al., 2008), among which, inquilinism is considered the most frequent type (Buschinger, 2009). In inquilinism sensu Wilson (1971), parasitic species spend their whole life cycle in the host's nest and frequently do not produce a worker caste, but instead invest resources and effort in producing only gynes and males. ...
The ant Acromyrmex ameliae is a social parasite of two leaf-cutting ant subspecies: Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus and A. subterraneus brunneus. Cytogenetic data are available for 14 species of Acromyrmex and all of them possess 2n = 38 chromosomes. In this study, chromosome number, heterochromatin detection, and detection of AT and GC-rich blocks of colonies of A. ameliae and its hosts were carried out. Additionally, the detection of nucleolus organizer regions and 18S rDNA clusters in chromosomes of the parasite and physical mapping of telomeres were undertaken. The same chromosome number and morphology were detected for the hosts 2n = 38 (10m + 14sm + 12st + 2a), while the females and males of the social parasite A. ameliae presented 2n = 36 (10m + 16sm + 8st + 2a) and n = 18 (5m + 8sm + 4st + 1a). In both A. ameliae and its hosts, the terminal region on the short arm of the largest subtelocentric pair is heterochromatic GC-rich, and this region corresponded to the 18S rDNA clusters in the parasite. The short arms of several chromosomes were heterochromatin-rich. The telomeric probe hybridized telomeres on all chromosomes of the parasite and was not detected in intrachromosomal regions. Through a comparative cytogenetic analysis, we hypothesize that the karyotype of A. ameliae (2n = 36) originated from a chromosomal rearrangement that reduced the number of chromosomes from 38 to 36; as available data on the genus Acromyrmex show that all other species possess 38 chromosomes, representing 45% of the 33 valid species in this genus. The mechanism of the chromosome rearrangement is discussed. Thus, the chromosome number observed in A. ameliae is a derivation from the genus. Our data show variation in the chromosomal number in Acromyrmex and suggest that analyses of the karyotypes of parasite species can yield novel insights with regards to the evolution of this genus.
... The identification of ants at genus level was carried out using classification keys presented by Baccaro et al. (2015). Subsequently, insects were identified at the species level using taxonomic literature (Feitosa et al., 2008;Fisher and Smith, 2008;Cuezzo and Guerrero, 2012). Representatives of the collected species were deposited in the Zoological collection of Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul (deposit codes ZUFMSHYM0333, ZUFMSHYM00342-580, and ZUFMS-HYM00584-585). ...
The full text is avaliable in a personalized URL providing 50 days' free access to the article. Anyone clicking on this link before April 01, 2020 will be taken directly to the final version of article on ScienceDirect, which they are welcome to read or download. No sign up, registration or fees are required: The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of succession stages of regeneration of the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado) on the richness, diversity, trophic guilds, and community composition of ants looking for taxonomic and functional changes in the community. The areas included an active pasture that had been created within the past six months, areas with several years of abandonment with different degrees of natural Brazilian savanna regeneration (from 2 to 15 years), and two large remnants of native forest that had been preserved for at least 40 years. Collections were carried out in 56 plots using sardine baits and an active search for a period of one hour in each plot. In addition to calculating the regeneration age, we evaluated successional stages by measuring vegetal characteristics in each plot. A total of 60 species was obtained, distributed in 28 genera and 8 subfamilies, and these demonstrated a direct association with the regeneration age of the areas, as well as their richness and diversity of ants. Areas with initial regeneration showed a greater proportion of generalist species and, as plant succession increased, generalist species decreased. A temporal threshold of 5–6 years for regeneration age was observed, when the community structure tended to stabilize. We observed that the maintenance of a minimum quantity of vegetation in areas destined for livestock can efficiently preserve ant diversity.
Full-text available
Queen dimorphism is known in different ant subfamilíes and corresponds to the co-occurrence of severa! queen morphs within the same species. lt is frequently associated with different colony-founding and dispersion strategies. We studied the queen-size dimorphism in the Pon erina e ant, Ectatomma tuberculatum from field colonies collected at Apazapan (Veracruz, Mexico). Microgynes were present in half the colonies collected and their production among the female sexuals prevailed over that of macrogynes. Colonies possessed one or several gynes, up to 8 for macrogynes and 11 for microgynes. From the data basis on nest excavation, worker size population was correlated neither with the number of dealate gynes nor with the number of microgynes, and it seemed that microgynes were as productive as macrogynes. Both gynes were morphologically similar but their distribution was clearly bimodal without overlapping, the microgynes b eing not completely separated from the workers. Microgynes fell on a continuous regression line with the macrogynes and represented the isometric reduction of normal queens. The ovarían morphology differed among the three female groups: macrogynes had the most numerous ovarioles on average but produced as many oocytes as microgynes. Contrary to the workers, all gynes possessed a developed spermatheca and had the potential ability to lay fertilized eggs. Such queen dimorphism was not previously observed in this species and only found in the A paza pan si te. It may constitute an alternative reproductive strategy leading to a functional facultative polygyny. as already reported in E. ruidum (Schatz et al. 1996, Lachaud et al. l 999a, b). or a case of a social intraspecific parasitism. Further investigations are being conducted to better understand the reproductive biology of this species.
Full-text available
Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier) preys primarily on small invertebrates, including other social insects. In Panama, workers forage primarily at night and nocturnal activity begins with a mass exit at dusk. Several times a day, particularly at dawn and dusk, hundreds of Crematogaster limata Fr. Smith file into nest entrances of E. tuberculatum. These cleptobiotic encounters may represent a primitive form of social parasitism.
Full-text available
This study provides a detailed account of the foraging behaviour of the ponerine ant Ectatomma opaciventre in a ‘cerrado’ savannah in south-east Brazil. Our observations suggest that this species has an exclusively diurnal foraging pattern. Feeding habits included both predation and scavenging, with termite workers and leaf-cutting ants as the most important food items. Contrary to all other Ectatomma species studied to date, no liquid food such as hemipteran honeydew or plant nectar was collected. Foragers showed clear individual foraging area fidelity.Workers of E. opaciventre employed a typical individual foraging strategy, i.e. there was no co-operation between foragers in the search for or retrieval of food, neither by tandem running nor by trail laying. Nest density was considerably lower than in other Ectatomma (0.015 nests per m2). The observed mean distance to the nearest neighbouring nest was 5.85 m, with a significant tendency toward over-dispersion. Nests were more frequently found in specific microhabitats, which may suggest active choice of nesting site by founding queens.
Full-text available
In the ponerine ant Ectatomma tuberculatum, workers display an ovariole cycle composed of nine distinct stages. Ovarian maturation depends partly on age. During the fist 4 weeks of imaginal life, the ovarioles develop a succession of polytrophic follicles. They reach their maximum growth at approximately 45 days old; at about 3 months, they begin a period of regression until they are completely inactivated at the age of approximately 1 year. However, workers of exactly the same age may display up to five different stages. Such variability is not related to differences in worker size. Body size seems to affect only the number of ovarioles (and perhaps the ability to produce alimentary eggs).
A taxonomic review is made of the 15 described species of socially parasitic Myrmica, found in the Palaearctic, and 3 apparently free-living Myrmica species that have characteristics of the "parasitic syndrome". Notes on the current taxonomic status and biological knowledge of each species are given. Earlier synonymies are discussed and one new synonymy is made: M. samnitica Mei = M. laurae Emery. Also, the synonymy of M. myrmecophila Wasmann with M. sulcinodis Nylander is confirmed and it is suggested that the type specimen is neither an ergatoid queen nor a social parasite, but a worker parasitized by Mermis. The status of M. symbiotica Menozzi remains unclear: it is not an ergatoid queen but could be a pseudogyne worker of a parasitic species with as yet undescribed queens. Keys are given for the identification of all castes of the 10 recognised species of social parasite (including M. symbiotica) and the 3 associated free-living species.