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Species: Azteca brevis   Forel, 1899 

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Azteca brevis_nr

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2020)

Azteca brevis Forel, 1899h PDF: 121, pl. 4, fig. 17 (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

See also: Longino, 2007 PDF: 22.


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Costa Rica, Nicaragua
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Costa Rica: southern Pacific lowlands.


Natural History:

In Costa Rica A. brevis is known only from the Pacific side, and mostly from the wet forests of the southern Pacific lowlands. Nests are in live stems of trees. Stems occupied by ants are covered with runways of characteristic crusty black carton, with the carton full of small round holes from which workers emerge. Colonies are polydomous, with workers and brood distributed in multiple branch tips. Colonies maintain large populations of coccoid Hemiptera inside the stems. Nests have been found in Licania (Chrysobalanaceae), Grias (Lecythidaceae), Myriocarpa (Urticaceae), Tetrathylacium costaricensis (Flacourtiaceae), Ocotea nicaraguensis (Lauraceae), and an unidentified tree in the Moraceae. Leanne Tennant, studying the incipient ant plant Tetrathylacium costaricensis, found A. brevis to be one of the most common inhabitants.

The following specific observations are from field notes:

28 Aug 1982, Longino #28Aug82/1500: In the uppermost crown area of a large Licania tree (Chrysobalanaceae), a colony occupied chambers in the center of nearly every branch tip I could reach. The chambers looked chewed out by ants, and were not a natural feature of the plant. The chambers had many pink coccids on the walls, and some chambers had brood. The branches showed a history of synchronous new growth flushes. Chambers in the latest flush were most active; chambers in older or dead stems were abandoned or had few workers. The chambers in sequential shoots were usually not connected. All the chambers were connected externally by an extensive system of galleries, made of a black, very crusty carton, filled with tiny, circular holes.

3 Sep 1982, Longino #3Sep82/1100: In the same canopy Licania, I observed a queen investigating a small hole in a living shoot. The hole was too small for her to enter.

25 Mar 1990, Longino #2651: A colony occurred in live stems of a small Grias tree (Lecythidaceae). Branch surfaces were covered with black, crusty carton, with a high density of small, circular entrance holes. Irregular cavities in stems contained abundant Homoptera.

28 Sep 1982 (Longino): Founding queens were in separate chambers at the tips of living branches, 10m high in a tree (Moraceae). The stems of this tree frequently had small, pre-formed internal chambers, some with dead Azteca remains.

Leeanne Tennant studied the ant-plant Tetrathylacium costaricensis (Flacourtiaceae) in Corcovado National Park, during July 1987. She found A. brevis to be one of the most common inhabitants. This ant-plant has pre-formed chambers that split, allowing entrance of ants without excavation.


This species was discussed in Longino (1996) as an unnamed morphospecies (JTL-001) similar to A. nigricans. Examination of the types of A. brevis revealed that it was conspecific with this morphospecies.

Literature Cited

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Azteca   Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 8-10, (download) 8-10 21311
Azteca brevis   Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 22-23, (download) 22-23 21311 GoogleMaps
Azteca brevis sp. n.  Forel, A., 1899, Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America. Insecta. Hymenoptera. 3 (Formicidae)., London: Unknown Publisher: 121, (download) 121 8170

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 7 times found in wet forest, 5 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in mature lowland rainforest, 1 times found in tropical wet forest.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 3 times mature lowland rf, 3 times lowland rf, 5 times ex Tetrathylacium macrophyllum, 1 times ex live stems Grias (Lecythidaceae), 1 times ex live branch of Grias, 1 times In live stems Myriocarpa, 2 times ex live stems Tetrathylacium costaricensis, 1 times Lone queen in live stem of Myriocarpa, 1 times ex Ocotea nicaraguensis, 1 times ex Lonchocarpus sp., 1 times beating vegetation, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 18 times search, 1 times beating, 1 times Malaise.

Elevations: collected from 10 - 300 meters, 46 meters average

Type specimens: syntype of Azteca brevis: casent0903012, casent0909602, casent0909603

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