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Unlike typical remote oceanic islands, Fiji boasts a diverse and distinctive ant fauna with 43 genera, 187 known species, and endemism rates of over 70% (see Appendix B for checklist). A number of Fiji?s ant genera (e.g. Cerapachys, Leptogenys, Proceratium) are not expected to occur on a remote oceanic island, and are more typically associated with continental faunas. Study of these taxa in relation to their relatives throughout the Pacific may prove useful for elucidating the biogeographical origin for much of Fiji?s enigmatic biota. Additionally, many genera (e.g. Camponotus, Pheidole, Strumigenys, Lordomyrma) have diversified within the archipelago into a radiation of endemic species. A detailed study of these genera combined with a broad study of the entire ant fauna is sure to reveal a wealth of information concerning the ecological and evolutionary assembly of Fiji?s biota over geologic time. Ninety-five of the described species (over 60%) are endemic to the archipelago, and a number of genera, such as Pheidole, Camponotus, Hypoponera, Lordomyrma and Strumigenys, have undergone significant taxonomic radiation. One genus, Poecilomyrma, is endemic to the archipelago and appears to have diversified into at least three species.
While the higher elevation rainforests of the larger islands serve as enclaves for the endemic ants, much of the lowlands and smaller islands are dominated by widespread pan-pacific species and exotic species. Although Anoplolepis gracilipes, Paratrechina vaga, Pheidole megacephala and Solenopsis geminata, among others, are excluding native ants from marginal habitats, neither Wasmannia auropunctata nor Solenopsis invicta have established populations on the archipelago.
A recent taxonomic monograph of the entire Fijian ant fauna was recently published (Sarnat & Economo, 2012). The Fijian ant fauna was also recently analyzed to test E.O. Wilson's famous taxon cycle hypothesis (Economo & Sarnat, 2012). are A series of faunistic revisions for the more diverse genera are now attempting to describe some of the dozens of as-yet-unnamed species collected during the survey (Sarnat, 2006). While the Camponotus-dominated arboreal fauna has been well-described, the ground fauna, and the leaf litter ants in particular, require further sampling for a complete picture of the ants of Fiji.
Eli M. Sarnat and Evan P. Economo