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Species: Pheidole simonsi   Wilson, 2003 


Classification:
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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2017)

Pheidole simonsi Wilson, 2003A: 630, figs. (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Distribution:


Neotropical Region: Alajuela, Alta Verapaz, Atlántida, Belize, Boaco, Cayo, Chiapas, Chontales, Comayagua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Gracias a Dios, Guanacaste, Guatemala, Heredia, Honduras, Izabal, Jinotega, Limón, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Nueva Segovia, Olancho, Panama, Petén, Puntarenas, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur, San Salvador, Veracruz

Distribution Notes:

Mexico to Panama. Costa Rica: both slopes to 800m.

Biology:

This species occurs in mature moist to wet forest. It nests in the soil, with a main nest chamber about 10cm deep. Workers often form a characteristic flat circular arena around the nest entrance, surrounded by a pallisade-like ring of excavated soil. The nest entrance often extends above the arena as a thin-walled, 1-2mm tall cylindrical tube. Their nests contain seed caches, and the majors have massive heads, which suggest granivory as a major component of the diet. They are not restricted to granivory, however, since workers readily recruit to baits of various kinds.

Comments:

J. Longino, 17 Mar 2014: Wilson named four species from Mexico and Central America that are all extremely similar and together form a very distinctive group with no similar species in the region. They are thrasys from Panama, simonsi from Costa Rica, gangamon from southern Mexico, and arctos from Tamaulipas, Mexico. Minor workers all look identical to me. Major workers show some geographic variation, with southern versions having longer, thinner propodeal spines, and the dorsal pilosity is longer. Specimens from Guatemala northward have shorter propodeal spines and are more bristly-looking, with shorter dorsal pilosity. DNA barcoding data are all from the southern populations and show two clusters. One has numerous Panama specimens and one specimen from Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Another cluster has numerous specimens from Guanacaste and many specimens from the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and southern Honduras. There is clearly one clade that is common in lowland wet forest throughout Central America and southern Mexico, exhibiting what appears to be uniform habitat preference, behavior, and nesting habits. It will probably emerge as a set of cryptic species, but at present I have no evidence of sharp morphological discontinuities at any one site or anywhere across the range of the clade. I am treating them all as simonsi (just because I started using that name first, for Costa Rican material) until further evidence.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Pheidole simonsiHNS new species

Types Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard.

Etymology Named in honor of my friend, the late Howard Simon, former managing editor of the Washington Post, Curator of the Nieman Fellows, and fellow entomologist.

diagnosis Distinguished within PheidoleHNS generally by the following set of character states.

Major: scrobes extend halfway up the head capsule; entire rear third of head dorsum, including occiput, rugoreticulate, but central third devoid of any sculpturing except scattered foveolae; postpetiolar node rugoreticulate; ventral profile of first gastral tergite lined with dense semierect hairs of uniform length.

Minor: propodeal spines very long, thin, and needle-like; body almost completely devoid of any sculpturing, instead smooth and shiny everywhere. The minor is very close to thrasysHNS, differing in the slightly broader occiput, rudimentary nuchal collar, and brown tarsi.

Measurements (mm) Holotype major: HW 1.34, HL 1.60, SL 0.58, EL 0.14, PW 0.78. Paratype minor: HW 0.66, HL 0.70, SL 0.66, EL 0.14, PW 0.44.

Color Major: head and mesosoma medium reddish brown, waist and mandibles plain dark brown, gaster black, antennae and legs medium brown.

Minor: head, waist, gaster, and femora dark, almost blackish brown; mandibles, mesosoma, and rest of leg segments medium brown.

Range Both Atlantic and Pacific slopes of Costa Rica to 800 m (J. T. Longino 1997).

Biology J. T. Longino (1997): "This species occurs in mature moist to wet forest. It nests in the soil, with a main nest chamber about 10 cm deep. When workers excavate soil from the nest, they often form a characteristic flat arena around the nest entrance, surrounded by a palisade-like ring of soil. Their nests contain seed caches, and the majors have massive heads, which suggest granivory as a major component of the diet. They are not restricted to granivory, however, since workers readily recruit to baits of several kinds." I found simonsiHNS nests of the kind just described in bare stretches of clay-soil paths through mature forest at the La Selva Biological Station.

figure Upper: holotype, major. Lower: paratype, minor. COSTA RICA: La Selva Biological Station, near Puerto Viejo, Heredia (Stefan Cover). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 155 times found in mature wet forest, 101 times found in tropical moist forest, 81 times found in tropical wet forest, 90 times found in tropical rainforest, 68 times found in montane wet forest, 63 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 59 times found in lowland wet forest, 54 times found in 2º wet forest, 42 times found in mesophil forest, 39 times found in montane rainforest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 447 times at bait, 264 times ex sifted leaf litter, 15 times nest in clay bank, 9 times nest in soil, 16 times Sobre Vegetacion, 11 times Hojarasca, 12 times beating vegetation, 3 times at bait along stream, 3 times bajo de M/06, 4 times bajo de M/03, 2 times pecan sandie bait, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 463 times baiting, 214 times miniWinkler, 31 times search, 44 times MaxiWinkler, 31 times flight intercept trap, 16 times Sweeping, 13 times Beating, 13 times Mini Winkler, 11 times Pitfall, 10 times Winkler, 12 times Malaise, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1350 meters, 359 meters average

Type specimens: paratype Pheidole gangamon: jtlc000016383; paratype Pheidole thrasys: jtlc000016559



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