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Tonduz was one of the early naturalists in Costa Rica, working with Anastasio Alfaro at the National Museum and sending abundant ant collections to taxonomists in Europe. Most of his collections are species of forested habitats, but it is perhaps telling that what might be his first collections, with collection numbers 1 and 3, are two ant species common in urban areas in the Central Valley. Longino collected P. synanthropica in city parks just a few blocks from the National Museum where Tonduz worked. Perhaps Alfaro sent a young Tonduz out behind the museum to collect his first ants.
It is remarkable that this species is not better known and was not described until 2009. It is no doubt common throughout the highly urbanized central valley of Costa Rica and in similar areas throughout Central America. This is probably a case of the common ants in the back yard being ignored as eager collectors head for undisturbed forest.
Holotype major worker. Costa Rica, Guanacaste: Bosque Humedo, Santa Rosa Nat. Park, 10.85000°N 85.61667°W, ±2000m, 300m, 15 Jul 1985 (J. Longino#0511) [INBC, unique specimen identifier CASENT0609037].
Paratypes: major and minor workers. Same data as holotype [BMNH, CAS, FMNH, INBC, JTLC, LACM, MCZ, MZSP, UCD, USNM].
Costa Rica, Mexico (Chiapas).
With the general habitus of P. anima Wilson 2003, P. eidmanni MenozziHNS 1926, P. maja ForelHNS 1886, P. piceonigra EmeryHNS 1922, and P. texticeps WilsonHNS 2003. Minor worker: scape relatively short, SI 102-116, versus relatively longer, SI> 120 (anima, majaHNS, piceonigraHNS, texticepsHNS); katepisternum foveolate, lacking irregular rugulae, versus with irregular rugulae overlaying foveolate sculpture (anima). Major worker: base of scape terete versus base of scape flattened (anima, majaHNS, piceonigraHNS); scape with no erect setae versus about 3 erect setae ( texticepsHNS); face with erect setae totally absent to very sparse versus with 10 or more erect setae (anima); anterior face with very reduced rugose sculpture versus with more extensive rugoreticulum ( eidmanniHNS, based on illustration of the major worker in Wilson [2003:289]); katepisternum sculpture as in minor worker; postpetiole in dorsal view robust, with strong triangular lateral conules, versus less transverse, with rounded, not conulate sides (anima); gaster with no erect setae versus with more than 5 erect setae (anima, texticepsHNS).
Description of minor worker
Measurements (paratype): HL 0.59, HW 0.56, HLA 0.21, SL 0.62, EL 0.15, ML 0.71, PSL 0.08, PMG 0.02, SPL 0.04, PTW 0.12, PPW 0.17, CI 96, SI 110, PSLI 13, PMGI 4, SPLI 6, PPI 141.
Measurements (n=16): HL 0.59-0.69, HW 0.56-0.66, SL 0.62-0.68, CI 91-98, SI 102-116.
Face uniformly smooth and shining; posterior margin of vertex flattened; occipital carina narrow, not visible in full face view; scape with short appressed to subdecumbent pubescence and 0-3 longer suberect setae; promesonotal groove large, deeply impressed; propodeal spines present; pronotum and dorsal mesonotum smooth and shining; katepisternum, anepisternum, and side of propodeum foveolate; dorsal face of propodeum faintly foveolate; setae on mesosoma short and stiff, four pairs on pronotum, one pair on mesonotum, and one forward-slanting pair on propodeum; dorsal (outer) margin of hind tibia with short fully appressed to subdecumbent pilosity, 0-1 long erect hairs; first gastral tergum smooth and shining; gastral dorsum with sparse short fully appressed setae and sparse longer erect setae, appressed setae much shorter than distance among them; color brown.
FIGURE 23. Pheidole synanthropicaHNS. Major worker: A, face view; B, lateral view; C, dorsal view; D, hypostomal margin. Minor worker: E, face view; F, lateral view; G, dorsal view; H, hind tibia. A-C, Holotype major worker; D, non-type major worker; E-H, Paratype minor worker. Scale bar 0.5mm for A, E, F, G, 1mm for others.
Description of major worker
Measurements (holotype): HL 1.00, HW 1.03, HLA 0.31, SL 0.66, EL 0.21, ML 0.99, PSL 0.10, PMG 0.04, SPL 0.05, PTW 0.30, PPW 0.43, IHT 0.33, OHT 0.44, CI 104, SI 64, PSLI 10, PMGI 4, SPLI 5, PPI 144, HTI 74.
Measurements (n=6): HL 0.91-1.00, HW 0.88-1.03, SL 0.63-0.66, CI 97-104, SI 64-71. Mandibles smooth and shiny; clypeus smooth and flat with distinct anterior notch; face with a few concentric rugulae around antennal insertions but otherwise smooth and shiny throughout; face with sparse, fully appressed, short setae, shorter than the distance among them, erect setae totally absent to very sparse, 0-2 pairs on frontal carinae, 0-1 pair on clypeus; scape smooth and shining, terete at base, with no erect setae; hypostomal margin gently curved; median tooth small; inner hypostomal teeth acutely pointed, much closer to outer hypostomal teeth than to midline; promesonotal groove prominent, deeply impressed; propodeal spines present; mesosomal sculpture as in minor worker; dorsal (outer) margin of hind tibia with short decumbent pilosity, no long erect hairs; mesosomal dorsum with erect setae sparse to absent, 0-1 pair on posterior pronotum, 0-1 pair on mesonotum; petiolar node in dorsal view transverse, much broader than long; postpetiole in dorsal view robust, with strong triangular lateral conules; first gastral tergite smooth and shining, with sparse short appressed setae and no erect setae; color brown.
Pheidole synanthropicaHNS occurs in open, seasonally dry habitats. The type specimens were at a tuna bait in the "bosque humedo" of Santa Rosa National Park in Costa Rica, but all other collections have been from highly synanthropic habitats such as city parks, lawns, and coffee farms.
The name is in reference to this species' occurrence in open, highly disturbed areas, often near human habitation.
The syntype series of P indistinctaHNS was comprised of two different Tonduz collections later associated by Forel. The labels are spare, just "Costa Rica, Tonduz," but the minor worker series has a number 1 on the label and the lectotype major worker has a number 3 on the label. These are probably different collection events and are definitely two different species. The minor workers are P. synanthropicaHNS and the lectotype major is P. pubiventrisHNS, another widespread and highly synanthropic species.
Tonduz was one of the early naturalists in Costa Rica, working with Anastasio Alfaro at the National Museum and sending abundant ant collections to taxonomists in Europe. Most of his collections are species of forested habitats, but it is perhaps telling that what might be his first collections, with collection numbers 1 and 3, are two ant species common in urban areas in the Central Valley. I have collected P. synanthropicaHNS in city parks just a few blocks from the National Museum where Tonduz worked. I can imagine a young Tonduz being sent out behind the museum to collect his first ants.
It is remarkable that this species is not better known and just now being described. It is no doubt common throughout the highly urbanized central valley of Costa Rica, and, since it also occurs in coffee farms in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in southern Mexico, probably occurs in similar areas throughout Central America. This is probably a case of the common ants in the back yard being ignored as eager collectors head for undisturbed forest.
Additional material examined
COSTA RICA: Heredia, Santo Domingo, 9°59'N, 84°05'W, 1100m (I. Perfecto); Puntarenas, 6km S Monteverde, 10°15'N, 84°49'W, 800m (J. Longino); Est. Biol. Los Llanos, near Santa Elena, 10°18'18"N, 84°50'14"W, 1150m (J. Longino); Monteverde, 10°18'N, 84°48'W, 1400m (S. Koptur); San Jose, Loma San Antonio, nr San Jose, 9°54'N, 84°02'W, 1300m (J. Longino); San Jose, 9°56'N, 84°05'W, 1100m (J. Longino); MEXICO: Chiapas, 15km ENE Huixtla, 15°11'N, 092°20'W, 1200m (I. Perfecto).
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in Moist forest patch surrounded by dry forest (Bosque Humedo), 2 times found in coffee farm, 4 times found in oak cloud forest, 3 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, 1 times found in moist forest and second growth veg., 1 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in lawn/sidewalk nr house, 3 times found in wet forest, 1 times found in 2º pine-oak-liquidambar forest, 2 times found in city park, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 10 times at bait, 1 times at tuna bait on ground under forest, 3 times pan trap, 1 times nest in soil on vertical shaded roadcut, 1 times nest in sidewalk crack, 2 times beating vegetation, 1 times workers under stone, 1 times strays, 1 times nest in soil, 1 times ground and vegetation foragers, 1 times foragers, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 9 times Baiting, 8 times search, 4 times Pan Trap, 2 times beating, 1 times at tuna bait on ground, 1 times MaxiWinkler.
Elevations: collected from 200 - 1770 meters, 961 meters average
Type specimens: Holotype Pheidole synanthropica: casent0609037; Paratype: fmnhins0000050045, fmnhins0000050046; Paratype Pheidole synanthropica: casent0609038, casent0609039, casent0609040, casent0609041, casent0609042, casent0609043, casent0609044, casent0609045, casent0609046, casent0609047, casent0609048, casent0609049, casent0609052, casent0609053, inbiocri002279645