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Iran is located on the Iranian plateau and covers an area of about 1,624,000 km2. The Iranian plateau is bounded to the north and north-east by the Alborz and Kopeh Dagh mountains, and on to west and the south by the Zagros mountains. Though Iran is considered part of the Palearctic realm, its borders are close to the boundaries of the Afrotropical and the Oriental realms to the south and southeast, respectively. Although the country belongs to the mid-latitude belt of arid and semi-arid regions in the Northern Hemisphere, it includes diverse ecosystems and habitats. This includes Caspian (Hyrcanian) mixed forests on the northern slope of the Alborz mountains, Alborz forest steppe on the southern and eastern slopes of the Alborz mountains, and Zagros Mountains forest steppe in the west. Overall, six biomes and 14 ecoregions occur in Iran, which helps explain the high diversity of the country’s flora and fauna.
The history of myrmecological investigations in Iran can be divided into two main periods. The first era, from 1900 to 1930, included descriptions of new species from the country by famous ant taxonomists such as Forel, Emery, and Crawley. The second period of myrmecological research driven in part by new interest by Iranian entomologists began in the 1990s and continues today.
So far, 160 ant species and subspecies from six subfamilies and 34 genera have been reported from the country. Four genera, Cataglyphis, Messor, Camponotus and Monomorium, comprise almost 50% of the total species richness. The number of species tallied to date is far from a complete inventory of native ant biodiversity and we eventually expect to find more than 400 species in Iran.
Omid Paknia, Sakine Hosseinnezhad & Donat Agosti