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Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala. Costa Rica: widespread.
Longino (1996) reviewed the taxonomy and biology of this species. It is found in wet forest habitats, where it nests in live stems of a wide variety of trees, including Cecropia insignis, Inga, Pentaclethra macroloba, Erythrina poeppigiana (Fabaceae), Tetrathylacium costaricensis, Licania, Phoebe chavarriana (Lauraceae), and Dendropanax arboreus (Araliaceae). At La Selva Biological Station, workers were encountered in two of 18 Project ALAS canopy fogging samples, from crowns of Carapa guianensis (Meliaceae) and Tapirira guianensis (Anacardiaceae).
The workers make small holes in shoot tips of live trees, leading to irregular cavities containing brood. The walls of the cavities are lined with abundant coccoid Hemiptera. As flushes of new growth occur, the ants move into the new shoots and progressively abandon older chambers lower in the branch. Colonies are polydomous, with brood distributed in multiple nests. Colonies can be large, occurring in large portions of large canopy trees. In contrast to the similar species A. brevis, workers do not use carton construction and often have exposed foragers on stems. Although new alate queens are often dispersed in the nests of a colony, I have never found a physogastric colony queen. This suggests that colonies are monogynous, with the colony queen hidden in one of the many nests that occur in tree crowns. Brood must be transported externally to new nests.
In Longino (1996), two morphospecies, JTL-001 and JTL-002, were considered close to or conspecific with A. nigicans. The former was discovered to be A. brevis, and the measurements of the latter cluster with the holotype queen of A. nigricans. The separateness of A. brevis and A. nigricans was further supported when the two species were found to be sympatric. I found both species nesting in the canopy of a large Licania tree in Corcovado National Park. At the time I did not understand the species boundaries, but in the field I observed behavioral differences. In my field notes I commented that Azteca high in the crown produced a black crusty carton on the stem surfaces and were rarely seen exposed on the surface, while another group of Azteca lower in the crown looked similar but did not make carton and were active and exposed on the surface of the live stems in which they nested. The former were A. brevis and the latter A. nigricans.
|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 nigricans||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: 40-41, (download)||40-41||21311||GoogleMaps|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 17 times found in montane wet forest, 1 times found in mature lowland rainforest, 3 times found in SSO 450m, 2 times found in secondary growth, 1 times found in STR nr Huertos, 2 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in roadside vegetation, 2 times found in Secondary forest, 1 times found in CC 1200m., 1 times found in CCL 400M, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times ex live stems Phoebe chavarriana (Lauraceae), 3 times ex Cordia alliodora, 1 times azteca; recently felled small Inga tree; new roadcut vicinity GIS 1800,-1400. Sc, 1 times second growth veg., 1 times mature lowland rf, 3 times ex Zanthoxylum, 1 times Nesting in scattered small chambers in live stems of recent branchfall from Pent, 1 times ex thorns of tree in Bombacaceae, <1wk old treefall between lab clearing and River Station; strays. Domin times 3322-s, 1 times STR, 1 times lowland rf, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 24 times Fogging, 14 times Search, 13 times Foggin, 8 times Malaise, 1 times light trap.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1000 meters, 177 meters average
Type specimens: syntype of Azteca nigricans: casent0909625