Reference for Kenya if not type: Kakamega Forest
Caste of types: (w)
Bolton, B., 2008:
(Figures 2a-d, 3a-e, 4a-f)
Bothroponera gabonensis Andre , 1892: 50. Holotype worker, GABON: no loc. (Mocquerys) ( MNHN ) [examined]. [Combination in Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) by Emery, 1901: 45; in Phrynoponera by Wheeler, W.M. 1920: 53.]
Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. striatidens Santschi , 1914: 315, fig. 4. Holotype worker, CAMEROUN: Victoria (Silvestri) ( DEUN ) [not seen; see note]. [Combination in Phrynoponera by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 78; synonymy with gabonensis by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]
Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) armata Santschi , 1919: 82. Holotype worker, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kitempuka (Gerard) ( NHMB ) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Phrynoponera by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 773.]
Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. robustior Santschi , 1919: 82. Syntype worker, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Banalia, 12.xii., no. 96 (Bequaert) ( NHMB ) [examined]. [Combination in Phrynoponera by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 774; synonymy with gabonensis by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]
Phrynoponera gabonensis var . esta Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 77. Syntype workers and queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Medje, stomach Bufo superciliaris (H.O. Lang); Medje, 27°15'E , 2°25'N , stomach Bufo tuberosus (no collector's name, presumably Lang or Lang & Chapin) ( AMNH , MCZC , LACM ) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]
Phyrnoponera gabonensis var. fecunda Wheeler , W.M. 1922: 78. Syntype workers and queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Akenge, 26°50'E , 2°55'N , stomach Bufo polycercus, Bufo funereus (H.O. Lang) ( AMNH , MCZC , LACM ) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]
Phrynoponera gabonensis var. umbrosa Wheeler , W.M. 1922: 78. Syntype workers, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Medje, stomach Bufo polycercus (H.O. Lang) ( AMNH , MCZC ) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]
Phrynoponera heterodus Wheeler , W.M. 1922: 78. Holotype queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Stanleyville, 25°10'E , 0°30'N (Lang & Chapin) ( AMNH ) [examined]. Syn. n.
Worker. TL 7.8-10.2, HL 1.76-2.20, HW 1.76-2.12, CI 95-102, SL 1.38-1.76, SI 78-85, PW 1.44-1.76, WL 2.56-3.04, maximum diameter of eye 0.36-0.46, OI 19-23 (25 measured).
Mandible colour usually red, but quite commonly brownish red, brown or black, with all intermediate shades known; in teneral workers the mandibles may be yellow. Mandible usually smooth with scattered pits but many samples show varying degrees of very fine striate sculpture on the apical half. Less commonly, more than half the mandible may be striate and sometimes the entire mandible is finely striate everywhere. Mandible usually with 4 or 5 teeth but some samples have 6 or 7 (7 in holotype); the maximum number recorded is 8 and some workers have different numbers of teeth on each mandible. Anterior clypeal margin with a conspicuous concavity medially and on each side of the concavity there is a blunt tooth or tooth-like prominence. Head capsule usually black but with the anterior portion and antennae brown to red. Sometimes the antennae are dark brown to blackish and sometimes the head capsule is entirely black or entirely reddish. Cephalic sculpture consists of costulae that may be uniform or broken, variable in coarseness of development, sometimes roughly longitudinal near the midline but otherwise radiating outwards and backwards on each side of the midline. Dorsal mesonotum usually reticulate-rugose, but frequently the rugular cross-meshes are weakened so that the sculpture has an overall longitudinal direction. Mesosoma generally black but varying patches or areas of red are frequent. Legs usually brown to red and distinctly lighter than the mesosoma, but in some they may be blackish. Gastral tergites 1-2 show much variation in density and intensity of sculpture. In the most weakly sculptured examples the tergites are glossy and almost smooth, only vaguely superficially reticulate-punctate. From this pattern the reticulate-punctate sculpture increases in density and intensity, so that the surfaces become entirely covered in a sharply defined reticulate-punctate blanket and the tergal surfaces become less glossy. At any point in this sequence of increasing density of punctation small costulae may appear, first around the setal pits then more extensively between the pits. The costulae increase in density and extent, and become more obviously longitudinal and parallel, until in the most coarsely sculptured series the sculpture of the first and second gastral tergites is entirely of dense longitudinal costulae upon a reticulate-punctate ground-sculpture. The third gastral tergite is usually just reticulate-punctate, but in the most densely sculptured workers some longitudinal costulae may also appear on this sclerite. In general the form of the gastral sculpture is only slightly variable within nest samples, but the changes in sculpture outlined form a gradual and continuous sequence in which there are no obvious breaks. Posterior margins of the gastral sclerites are usually reddish (yellowish in tenerals), but in some the sclerites are entirely black.
FIGURE 2. Phrynoponera gabonensis worker CASENT0178229: A, dorsal view of body; B, dorsal view of petiole; C, lateral view of body; D, full-face view of head.
All the synonyms listed above were based on workers, or workers and queens, except for heterodus , which was based on an isolated queen. All were founded on slight variations of colour and sculpture except for heterodus , which had a dental count at the higher end of the range seen in the species. The dental count of heterodus was reported as 7 by Wheeler (1922), but there are actually 6 teeth on the right mandible and apparently7 on the left, which is mostly concealed by the overlapping right mandible. All of these characters are now known to be gradient and to lack taxonomic value at species-rank. Brown's (1950) summary dismissal of all the "varieties" was therefore justified. Many queens are now represented in collections and they exhibit the same gradient variations in colour, sculpture and dental count as are shown by the worker caste.
Males of this species, discussed above, originated in two series with the data: Ghana: Tafo, 11.vi.1970 and 26.vi.1970; respectively "in wet-rotten log" and "wet-rotten branch in leaf litter" (B. Bolton). In the first series the male was collected with both workers and queen, in the second with workers. Both are in BMNH and one specimen is in LACM .
P. gabonensis is the most common, widely distributed and frequently encountered member of the genus. Specimens are usually retrieved from leaf litter samples but also occur in pitfall traps. The species is known to nest in and under rotten wood, in compacted soil and in termitaries.
Material examined. Ivory Coast: Lamto (J Levieux); F.C.Haute Dodo (K. Yeo); F.C. Cavally (K. Yeo). Ghana: Tafo (D. Leston); Tafo (B. Bolton); Mt Atewa (R.W. Taylor); Mt Atewa (D. Leston); Bunso (D. Leston); Bunso (R. Belshaw); Mamang River (K. Yeo). Cameroun: Mbalmayo (N. Stork); Tissongo (D. Jackson); Nkoemvon (D. Jackson); Prov. Sud, P.N. Campo, ESE Campo (B.L. Fisher); Res. Campo, Massif des Mamelles (B.L. Fisher); Res. de Campo (D.M. Olson); Res. de Fauna de Campo, ESE Ebodje (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Sud-Ouest, Bimbia For. (B.L. Fisher). Gabon: CNRS, Makokou (W.H. Gotwald); Makokou (I. Lieberburg); Prov. Estuaire, Pointe Ngombe, Ekwata (B.L. Fisher); F.C. Mondah, NNW Libreville (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Woleu-Ntem, ESE Minvoul (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Ogooue-Maritime, Res. Moukalaba, NW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Moukalaba, SW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Monts Doudou, NW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Monts Doudou (S. van Noort); WNW Doussala (B.L. Fisher). Central African Republic: Res. Dzanga-Sangha, NW Bayanga (B.L. Fisher); P.N. Dzanga-Ndoki, Mabea Bai, NE Bayanga (B.L. Fisher); P.N. Dzanga-Ndoki, Lidjombo (B.L. Fisher). Democratic Republic of Congo: Kikwit (A. Dejean); Ituri For., vic. Epulu (T. Gregg); Epulu (S.D. Torti); Ituri For., Beni-Irumu (N.A. Weber); Walikale (Ross & Leech); Irangi, Luhoho Riv. (Ross & Leech); Ituri, Mont Hoyo (Ross & Leech); Akenge (H.O. Lang); Medje (H.O. Lang); N'Gayu (H.O. Lang); Gamangui (H.O. Lang); Avakubi (H.O. Lang); Stanleyville (Lang & Chapin); Bafwasende(H.O. Lang); Kitempuka (Gerard); Banalia (Bequaert). Angola: Dundo, Carrisso Park, R. Luachimo (no collector's name). Sudan: Imatong Mts, Equatoria (N.A. Weber); Lotti For. (Myers); Azza For. (Myers). Uganda: Kibale For. N.P., Kanyawara (Quicke & Laurenne); Lake Victoria, Nkosi I, S. Sesse (G.D.H. Carpenter); Zika Forest, nr Entebbe (G Arnold). Kenya: Kakamega For., Kaunosi (A. Loveridge); Kakamega Distr., Isecheno Nat. Res., Isecheno (R.R. Snelling); Isecheno Forest Res. (W. Okeka); Kakamega Distr., Yala River For. Res. (R.R. Snelling); Kakamega Distr., Bunyangu Nat. Res., Salazar Circuit (Snelling & Espira).
Brown, W. L., 1950:
Bothroponera gabonensis Ern. Andre , 1892, Revue d'Entomologie Caen, 11:50, worker. Wheeler, 1922, Bulletin American Museum of Natural History, 45:76-77, fig. 11, worker, [[queen]], as Phrynoponera .
Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. striatidens Santschi, 1914, Bollettino Laboratorio di Zoologia Generate e Agraria Portici, 8:315, fig. 4, [[queen]]. (New synonymy.)
Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. robustior Santschi , 1919, Revue Zoologique Africaine, 7:82, worker. (New synonymy.)
Phrynoponera gabonensis var. esta Wheeler , 1922, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 45:77-78, worker, [[queen]]. (New synonymy.)
Phrynoponera gabonensis var. fecunda Wheeler , 1922, Ibid., p. 78, worker, [[queen]]. (New synonymy.)
Phrynoponera gabonensis var. umbrosa Wheeler , 1922, Idem., p. 78, worker, (New synonymy.)
I have examined the types of Wheeler's three varieties and specimens of what he considered to be typical P. gabonensis . All of these specimens came from the Congo, mostly from the stomachs of species of Bufo. At least some of each series came from Medje, and most are represented from Akenge. The differences between these forms are very slight, and in spite of careful examination, I cannot see the characters which Wheeler cites in several cases as points of differentiation. Where variation of perceptible degree does occur, it is extremely slight and seems to link Santschi's two varieties with the typical form. It seems to me that both Wheeler and Santschi were pushing even the weak varietal category to inexcusable extremes by placing names on these utterly insignificant variants. Though I have not seen specimens, I consider it at least a possibility that Phrynoponera heterodus Wheeler belongs in the synonymy of Phrynoponera gabonensis .
Wheeler, W. M., 1922:
Fig .11. Phrynoponera gabonensis (Ern. André ) . Worker, a, lateral view of body; b,headfrom above; c, petiole, dorsal view.
Worker and Female (dealated).-Differing from the preceding form in color, the mandibles being nearly black, the frontal carina, antenna) and legs blackish brown, very nearly as dark as the remainder of the body, the posterior borders of the abdominal segments slightly paler and more reddish. The mandibles and gaster are shining as in the typical form.
Described from eight workers and a female from Medje (type locality), two workers from Ngayu, and a female from Gamangui (Lang and Chapin), all found in the stomachs of toads (Bufo superciliaris, polycercus, funereus, and tuberosus).
Worker and Female (dealated).-Having the coloration of the typical form, i. e., with the mandibles, frontal carinae, antennae, legs, and posterior borders of the abdominal segments red, but with the postpetiole and gaster opaque, densely and finely punctate, and with superadded coarser longitudinal punctures, or aciculations, having sharp anterior edges. The legs are somewhat more opaque and more coarsely coriaceous than in the typical gabonensis . The mandibles are shining and sparsely and coarsely punctate, as in the two preceding forms.
Described from eleven workers and one female from Akenge (type locality), eighteen workers from Medje, two from Ngayu, and one from Avakubi (Lang and Chapin). All the specimens were found in the stomachs of toads (Bufo superciliaris, polycercus, funereus, and tuberosus).
Worker.-Coloration like that of the variety esta, black throughout, the postpetiole and gastric segments with narrow brown posterior border. The sculpture of the gaster is that of the variety fecunda .
Two specimens from Medje (Lang and Chapin) from the stomach of a toad (Bufo polycercus).
Medje, [[worker]]; Akenge, [[worker]]; Ngayu, [[worker]] (Lang and Chapin). Four specimens, all from the stomachs of toads (Bufo polycercus, funereus, and tuberosus). These specimens have the coloration of the typical gabonensis and variety fecunda and the abdominal sculpture of the latter, but the mandibles are subopaque and finely striated, except at the base, in addition to having the coarse, sparse punctures of the other varieties. The epinotal spines seem to be a little longer and more acute than in any of these forms.
Bernard, F., 1953:
Nimba (sans localite): une [[queen]], une [[worker]]; crete de Nion, 1.300 m., 19-IV:une [[worker]]. Var. robustior SanT.: Camp IV (1.000 m.): une [[worker]]; enfin une [[queen]] ailee immature, de race indeter- minable, prise a Nion. Il est curieux de trouver sur les cretes et dans les lieux cultives ces Fourmis qui semblaient caracteristiques de la grande foret equatoriale.