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A note from Brian Heterick 2014:
The confusion arises because of the apparent linking of two taxonomically distinct type specimens (a major and a minor worker) under the same name. The species both occur on Barrow Island and this has implications for collections and taxonomic work done on the island, which is both a conservation zone and a gas hub. The major worker of our ‘Pheidole sp. JDM 1134’ (CASENT0908060) is clearly identical with a syntype major worker ofPheidole turneri Forel (1902). The syntype of the supposed minor worker of the same species (CASENT0908061) is, however, quite different to the true minor worker (we do not have nest series, but this species is very common Barrow Island, so there is no doubt of the identity of the major and minor workers.) Hunting through your display of named Pheidole, I have found two candidates for the minor worker: CASENT0908056 is identical with our specimens for ‘Pheidole sp. JDM 536’, and carries the unavailable (Taylor, 1986) quadrinomial of ‘Pheidole proxima transversa opacior Forel, 1910’. The minor worker of P. turneri (your CASENT0908061) varies from P.proxima (etc.)only in the upward inclination of the spines, so I am confident that both names refer to the same species.
This raises the question of where the true minor worker of Pheidole sp. JDM 1134 and the major worker of Pheidole sp. JDM 536 fit among the named material. Possibly they have not been recognised, although both species appear to belong to the proxima complex. I am unable to find a match for them among the available pictures. (We also have the species Pheidole proxima bombalensis Forel on the Island, although it is far more common in the temperate south-west.)
Working out which is the name bearer out of the two disparate species called ‘turneri’ may be assisted by the minor worker’s label. Whereas the original type label for the major worker clearly shows just the name ‘turneri’, the minor worker label reveals what looks like ‘proxima Mayr var.’ overwritten with ‘turneri type Forel.’ Since Pheidole proxima transversa was described in the same publication as P. turneri, it looks as though Forel may have originally been inclined to ascribe the minor worker to the former species.
I thought I would alert you to this disparity in type material on visual display, as you have asked for comments on the ants featured in AntWeb, and you may wish to place a caveat or other flag on the entry for P. turnerifor when a reviser eventually gets to work on the Australian material.
Collected most commonly using these methods: Ethylene glycol pitfalls times Site TCMBW04.