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Costa Rica to Amazonian Brazil and Bolivia. Costa Rica: widespread.
The taxonomy and biology of A. ovaticeps is reviewed in Longino (1989a, 1991b). See also general treatment of the Cecropia-Azteca association in Costa Rica.
In many parts of the Neotropics there are two locally sympatric forms in the alfari complex, one of which is less setose than the other. Longino (1989a) treated them as two species, with the less setose species being alfari and the more setose species being ovaticeps. The distinction is often clear when members of the alfari complex are locally abundant. For example, in the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, ovaticeps queens have a dense brush of setae on the abdomen, and are conspicuously distinct from alfari in the same area. However, in some areas the distinction is not as clear. In Monteverde, some colonies are identical to standard alfari s.s. from elsewhere in Costa Rica. Other colonies show a range of seta abundances, but are not as densely setose as the Atlantic lowland ovaticeps.
Azteca ovaticeps shares behavioral features and size with alfari, but tends to occur in areas of frequent disturbance which are embedded in primary forest: river margins in Brazil and Peru, new roadcuts or new clearings in otherwise forested areas of Costa Rica and Venezuela (Longino 1989a, Yu and Davidson 1997). In Costa Rica, ovaticeps will inhabit any of the myrmecophytic Cecropia species (Longino 1989a, 1991b). At low elevations on the Atlantic slope, most mature trees of Cecropia insignis are inhabited by ovaticeps.
Mature colonies have a dispersed colony structure (Longino 1991a). There is no central carton nest. Brood and any alate sexuals are in branch tips. Older parts of the tree are gradually abandoned, and internal passages are not maintained among occupied branches. Workers are relatively timid and will not defend a mature tree (small saplings are more aggressively defended). When a tree is disturbed, workers usually remain in the branches. Only when a branch is broken open will workers rush out to attack. The foliage of trees occupied by ovaticeps hosts a diverse insect fauna, including foraging ants of other species.
The alfari group, containing alfari and ovaticeps, is a lineage that has colonized Cecropia trees independently of other obligate Cecropia ants (Ayala et al. 1996). Azteca ovaticeps is more geographically variable than A. alfari and may be paraphyletic with respect to A. alfari (Longino 1989a, Ayala et al. 1996).
|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 ovaticeps||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: 42-43, (download)||42-43||21311|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 6 times found in roadside vegetation, 6 times found in montane wet forest, 2 times found in roadside edge, 3 times found in edge secondgrowth rainforest, 4 times found in 2nd growth rainforest, 2 times found in wet forest edge, 1 times found in rainforest, 2 times found in edge of second growth rainforest, 2 times found in Pasture edge/primary forest, 1 times found in STR 2050, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 14 times ex Cecropia, 7 times ex Cecropia latiloba, 5 times In Cecropia, 5 times in Cecropia peltata, 4 times Ex branch Cecropia obtusifolia. See #2433-s for additional notes., 2 times In Cecropia insignis sapling, 1 times colony in mature tree Cecropia obtusifolia, 3 times in Cecropia sapling, 2 times Ex branch sample Cecropia insignis. See field notes for additional notes, figure, 2 times Ex branch of Cecropia obtusifolia. SAT 1355. See field notes for additional data, 1 times voucher specimens from Ayala et al. 1996, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 29 times search, 6 times Malaise, 1 times Fogging, 1 times manual sampling.
Elevations: collected from 50 - 1050 meters, 274 meters average
Type specimens: Lectotype of Azteca alfari aequalis: casent0909583; Lectotype of Azteca alfari aequilata: casent0909584; syntype of Azteca ovaticeps: casent0903004, casent0909590, casent0909591; syntype of Azteca alfari tuberosa: casent0909595; syntype of Azteca alfari aequalis: casent0903006; syntype of Azteca alfari tuberosa: casent0903005