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China is the world's third largest country by area, encompassing over 9.5 million square kilometers, and is the most populous nation with more than 1.3 billion people. But for biologists, China also offers a tremendous diversity of habitats. The nation includes no less than seven different biomes, from the cold desert areas of the northwest, to tropical Yunnan to the southeast, which is a hotspot of global plant diversity. Topographic variation in China is among the most extreme in the world, ranging from sea level to the summits of the highest peaks of the Himalayas. With such a broad gradient of ecosystems it is no surprise to find that China hosts a rich ant fauna. To date, no fewer than 938 species and subspecies spread over 103 genera and subfamilies have been reported, and many more species are expected to be reported in the future. The ant fauna includes elements from the Palearctic region, especially in the northern provinces, as well as from the Oriental region, especially in the southern provinces.
The southeastern provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi, with, respectively, 406 and 288 known species, host the most diverse ant fauna. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the northern provinces of Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Jilin, which are the least diverse with 26, 32 and 32 known species respectively. To date, several species-rich genera (> 30 species) are known, including Camponotus, Tetramorium, Pheidole, Myrmica, Formica, Polyrhachis and Crematogaster. China hosts several endemic genera including Bannapone and the recently described Furcotanilla and Gaoligongidris, as well as genera known only from only a few other countries in the world, including Dacatria, Gauromyrmex, Kartidris, Perissomyrmex, and Rotastruma.
The list presented here is a compilation of species records identified within the taxonomic and ecological literature. Those records should be interpreted with great caution, as several might in the future be synonymized within existing species or proven to be misidentified. This checklist will certainly be expanded over time as new species are described or reported from China. For a more detailed list of species by province and those found in countries or regions surrounding China, readers are invited to consult Guénard and Dunn 2012.