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Extant: 1 valid subspecies
Southern Mexico to Costa Rica. Costa Rica: widespread.
Azteca gnava occurs in the canopy of wet to moist forest habitats, where it forms ant gardens. Ant gardens are moderately abundant in Costa Rica, usually in the canopy of wet to moist forest, and often in trees overhanging streams or river margins. Costa Rican ant gardens are formed by a number of species, including Odontomachus panamensis (in parabiotic association with Crematogaster carinata), C. jardinero, C. longispina, Pheidole violacea, Azteca gnava, and A. nigra.
Azteca gnava ant gardens are large and their associated epiphytes usually appear dense and well established (e.g. robust Aechmea (Bromeliaceae) plants, dense mats of Peperomia (Piperaceae), hemiepiphytic Coussapoa). In Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica, A. gnava ant gardens often have abundant growth of Peperomia macrostachya and Aechmea tillandsioides var. kienastii. Colonies usually occur as one or more large central nests and numerous smaller satellite nests, forming an "archipelago" of ant gardens. Larger nests may be over 50cm diameter. Invariably, large populations of coccoid Hemiptera are sheltered beneath the ant gardens, attached to the supporting branch of the host tree and sometimes on the epiphytes on the nest. Ant brood can be found dispersed throughout the gardens.
Queens were unknown prior to this study and they are very rarely encountered. In the one case in which I observed a colony queen, it inhabited the central and largest ant garden. Very occasionally alate queens are taken in Malaise traps. On Barro Colorado Island, Panama, I collected an alate queen flying in the forest at 1700hrs.
Azteca gnava may be close to or the same as A. ulei, the ants from Ule's classic studies of Amazonian ant gardens (Ule 1901).
|Azteca||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 8-10, (download)||8-10||21311|
|Azteca gnava||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 34-35, (download)||34-35||21311||GoogleMaps|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 3 times found in rainforest, 2 times found in wet forest, 2 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in tropical dry forest, 1 times found in Primary forest at river edge, 1 times found in tropical wet forest, 1 times found in edge of rainforest.
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times scrubby veg; in carton nest, 1 times Patch of lowland primary rain forest with trees being felled as we collected. An, 1 times foragers on tree, 2 times Ficus canopy; in ant gardens, 1 times antgarden on small tree over water, 1 times in ant gardens, 2 times Nid de termites abandonné, 1 times in an garten in wurzeln Orchidee, 1 times ant gardens, 1 times ant garden, 1 times tending Homoptera/nr antgarden, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 3 times Search, 1 times hand collecting, 1 times Malaise.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1240 meters, 259 meters average
Type specimens: Lectotype of Azteca gnava: casent0909662; paralectotype of Azteca gnava: casent0909663; syntype of Azteca ulei rossi: casent0909699, casent0909700; syntype of Azteca gnava surubrensis: casent0909664; type of Azteca ulei subsp. rossi: focol0539, focol0540, focol0541