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Figures 4 b, 5 b, 6 b
HL 1.43; HW 1.15; EL 0.42; SL 1.70; WL 2.34; PnW 0.95; PnM 6; PpM 14; TM 30
Type specimen label: ALABAMA, Chilton Co., Interstate- 65 rest area 3 mi. E of Thorsby . 1 - X- 1983. M. B., J. R., B. R. DuBois. (JCT). Holotype and three paratypes on two pins. The holotype and one paratype will be deposited at MCZ and the other two specimens will be added to the excellent material of this species collected in Alabama and elsewhere by W. S. Creighton, now housed at LACM.
Worker Gracile, shiny, and the brightest yellow member of the group. Head, mesosoma and legs light reddish- to pale brownish yellow; head and mesosoma not at all or only a little lighter than gaster. Dorsal sclerites of mesosoma and especially the gaster with long, usually curved, erect macrochaetae. Number of macrochaetae on propodeum usually exceeds the number on the pronotum (20 of 32 specimens examined). Sheen of gaster readily visible through pubescence composed of pale, slender, grayish hairs of medium density (Fig. 4 b). Erect macrochaetae on gaster long, commonly 0.25 - 0.30 mm, tapering to a point and curved (Fig. 6 b).
Queen Color, gastral pubescence and shininess like the workers, with the usual differences in size; with faint tessellation of upper portion of head, pronotum, sides of mesothorax, propodeum and gastral dorsum; wings, when present, clear to light brownish.
Male Pubescence and pilosity abundant; mesosomal dorsum dull-punctate; head and gaster very dark brown, appearing black; mesosoma dusky yellowish brown, legs reddish brown; wings clear to light brownish. A little brighter in color, especially mesosoma, less pilose, pilosity also finer, and less pubescent than dolosaHNS.
F. biophilicaHNS and F. incertaHNS are sympatric in the southern part of the latter's range. In the field, F. biophilicaHNS appears more brightly and uniformly reddish-yellow in color, and (if several workers of a colony are present) weakly polymorphic, whereas F. incertaHNS is more brownish yellow, smaller overall, and usually (though not invariably) more monomorphic within colonies. Metrically, F. biophilicaHNS is more slender, has a proportionally longer mesosoma and narrower head than F. incertaHNS (compare SI, TWI and CI values, Table 1). F. biophilicaHNS usually has more macrochaetae on the propodeum than on the pronotum (20 of 32 specimens), whereas F. incertaHNS usually has more macrochaetae on the pronotum than on the propodeum (22 of 31 specimens).
F. biophilicaHNS is also somewhat more brightly and uniformly colored, shinier and overall less hairy, and has a sharper petiolar crest in profile than F. dolosaHNS. The F. biophilicaHNS specimens examined in this study also had a significantly higher CTI and OI (were more slender and had relatively larger eyes) than F. dolosaHNS (Table 1). In the South, the less pilose minor workers and nanitics of F. biophilicaHNS are difficult to differentiate from F. pallidefulvaHNS. Often a rather squarer propodeal profile and more uniform bright reddish yellow color indicate F. biophilicaHNS. Additionally, on average the TWI of F. pallidefulvaHNS is larger than that of F. biophilicaHNS (Table 1). Ecologically, specimens from fens, bogs, swamps and fresh or salt marshes are most likely to be F. biophilicaHNS. In the northern part of the range of F. biophilicaHNS, its bright color will always distinguish it from the at least partially brown F. incertaHNS and F. pallidefulvaHNS.
The name biophilica is given in allusion to E. O. Wilson's popularly inspirational coining biophilia, meaning the love of other species as a part of human nature. Specimens from Alabama, Dr. Wilson's home state, were chosen as the type series to further honor his contributions to myrmecology, conservation and behavioral biology.
RANGE AND HABITAT
Found in mesic to hydric open habitats, including fields, prairies, lawns, fens, bogs, marshes and open woodlands, from the Carolinas to Missouri, south to northern Florida and central Texas. Northward, its occurrence is more sporadic, especially in formerly glaciated regions, where F. biophilicaHNS shifts to drier (thus warmer) loess and sandy grassland locations. It reaches central Illinois in the Illinois River outwash sand prairies and reaches southeastern New York in the sandy plains along the East Coast and on Long Island. The habitat overlaps that of F. incertaHNS in unglaciated prairies and eastern meadows, and overlaps that of F. dolosaHNS in southern pine woodland and savanna. F. biophilicaHNS is absent from the most xeric and infertile sites occupied by F. dolosaHNS. In the Ozarks and other southern U. S. hills, F. biophilica occurs in groundwater fens, bogs, marshes and flatwoods. This is the only southern FormicaHNS that occurs in these wetland habitats, where it nests in the elevated hummocks of organic matter formed by grass or sedge tussocks. It is less common than F. pallidefulvaHNS in human habitats, but occasionally shows up in lawns, parks and campuses, especially in parts of the South where fire ants are less abundant.
ARKANSAS: Logan ; ALABAMA: Butler ; Chilton ; DeKalb ; Lawrence ; Mobile ; Morgan ; St. Clair ; Tuscaloosa ; DELAWARE: Sussex ; DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington ; FLORIDA: Alachua ; Columbia ; Gadsden ; Okaloosa ; Polk ; Walton ; GEORGIA: Clarke ; Habersham ; Lumpkin ; Rabun ; ILLINOIS: Mason ; LOUISIANA: Natchitoches ; Tammany ; Washington; MISSISSIPPI: Alcorn ; Bolivar ; Chickasaw ; Lafayette ; Lee ; Monroe ; Oktibbeha ; Panola ; Pontotoc ; Tippah ; MISSOURI: Franklin ; Lincoln ; Reynolds ; Washington; NEW YORK: Rockland ; SOUTH CAROLINA: Pickens ; TENNESSEE: Davidson ; Monroe ; Sevier ; TEXAS: Cass ; Collin ; Potter .
Nests of F. biophilicaHNS have simple, cryptic openings in wetlands, grasslands or less often, in open woodlands. The entrance is usually hidden amongst grass or sedges. In springtime, colonies of F. biophilicaHNS may build a 10 - 25 cm diameter mound of soil and plant fragments nestled against a grass or sedge clump, this collapsing in disuse during the hot, dry weather of summer. In fens, bogs and wet meadows, when ground at the base is permanently or seasonally saturated, F. biophilicaHNS nests in the upper parts of graminoid tussocks. One colony under a strip of bark in unmowed grass in eastern Missouri contained four larvae of myrmecophilous staphylinid beetles, probably Xenodusa cava LeConte (but not collected for determination).
This species has been found as host to the slavemaker Polyergus lucidusHNS s. l. in Washington, D. C., northern Georgia and east-central Missouri. The variety of this slavemaker parasitizing F. biophilicaHNS has longer scapes and is somewhat less shiny and slightly more pubescent than typical P. lucidus lucidus MayrHNS, which parasitizes F. incertaHNS. F. biophilicaHNS occurs among the many hosts of F. pergandeiHNS in the prairies of Missouri, but has only been observed in combination with other host species. At one site, a F. pergandeiHNS nest contained a melange of six slave species including (in order of decreasing relative abundance) F. pallidefulvaHNS, F subsericeaHNS Say, F. biophilicaHNS, F. dolosaHNS, F. incertaHNS and F. obscuriventris MayrHNS, certainly the most species-rich, naturally occurring ant colony on record!
Sexuals have been collected in nests in Missouri, Texas and Georgia in mid-June to early July, but no flight or colony-founding activity has been recorded. There is one example of a queen-male bilateral gynandromorph in a Missouri collection. The worker pupae are always enclosed in a pale tan cocoon, and the sexuals in a larger, darker cocoon.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 0 times found in in cultivated cotton, 0 times found in peripheral to cultivated cotton, 0 times found in old field, 0 times found in cultivated cotton, 0 times found in feeding on isopod, 3 times found in mowed grassy area, nest in soil, 1 times found in deciduous forest, 3 times found in open prairie near lake, 0 times found in Butterfly weed flowers, 0 times found in soybean field, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times on soil, 1 times mound nest.
Collected most commonly using these methods: 1 times pitfall trap, 7 times general collecting, 0 times bait, 0 times D-Vac sample, 0 times sweeping, 0 times bait trap-protein, 1 times blacklight trap, 1 times direct collection, 0 times light trap.
Elevations: collected from 334 - 1500 meters, 1266 meters average