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Species: Azteca gnava   Forel, 1906 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2022)

Extant: 1 valid subspecies

Azteca paraensis r. gnava Forel, 1906d PDF: 241 (w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Primary type material: lectotype worker (by designation of Longino, 2007 PDF: 34). Primary type locality: lectotype Costa Rica: (no further data) (P. Biolley). Primary type depository: MHNG. Secondary type information: Secondary type material: paralectotype workers (number not stated). Secondary type locality: same as for lectotype. Secondary type depositories: MCZC, MHNG, NHMB. Type notes: 1) Shattuck, 1994 PDF: 18, cites 30 worker syntypes. 2) Other original syntype localities: Costa Rica: Surubrés (P. Biolley), Costa Rica: San Mateo (P. Biolley). 3) Surubrés was earlier restriction of type-locality by Kempf, 1972b PDF: 32. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Lectotype designation: Longino, 2007 PDF: 34.
Subspecies of Azteca paraensis: Forel, 1908c PDF: 62.
Status as species: Forel, 1912i PDF: 49; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 32; Shattuck, 1994 PDF: 18; Bolton, 1995b: 78; Longino, 2007 PDF: 34 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 253.
Senior synonym of Azteca ulei rossi: Longino, 2007 PDF: 34.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Southern Mexico to Costa Rica. Costa Rica: widespread.


Natural History:

Azteca gnava occurs in the canopy of wet to moist forest habitats, where it forms ant gardens. Ant gardens are moderately abundant in Costa Rica, usually in the canopy of wet to moist forest, and often in trees overhanging streams or river margins. Costa Rican ant gardens are formed by a number of species, including Odontomachus panamensis (in parabiotic association with Crematogaster carinata), C. jardinero, C. longispina, Pheidole violacea, Azteca gnava, and A. nigra.

Azteca gnava ant gardens are large and their associated epiphytes usually appear dense and well established (e.g. robust Aechmea (Bromeliaceae) plants, dense mats of Peperomia (Piperaceae), hemiepiphytic Coussapoa). In Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica, A. gnava ant gardens often have abundant growth of Peperomia macrostachya and Aechmea tillandsioides var. kienastii. Colonies usually occur as one or more large central nests and numerous smaller satellite nests, forming an "archipelago" of ant gardens. Larger nests may be over 50cm diameter. Invariably, large populations of coccoid Hemiptera are sheltered beneath the ant gardens, attached to the supporting branch of the host tree and sometimes on the epiphytes on the nest. Ant brood can be found dispersed throughout the gardens.

Queens were unknown prior to this study and they are very rarely encountered. In the one case in which I observed a colony queen, it inhabited the central and largest ant garden. Very occasionally alate queens are taken in Malaise traps. On Barro Colorado Island, Panama, I collected an alate queen flying in the forest at 1700hrs.


Azteca gnava may be close to or the same as A. ulei, the ants from Ule's classic studies of Amazonian ant gardens (Ule 1901).

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 gnava   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: 34-35, (download) 34-35 21311 GoogleMaps

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 5 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in 2nd growth rainforest, 2 times found in wet forest, 1 times found in rainforest, trees being felled, 2 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in tropical dry forest, 1 times found in tropical wet forest, 1 times found in Primary forest at river edge, 1 times found in degraded forest, 1 times found in edge of rainforest.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times in carton nest, 1 times antgarden in Hura crepitans, 1 times foragers on tree, 2 times Ficus canopy; in ant gardens, 1 times antgarden on small tree over water, 1 times in ant gardens, 1 times under carton on Coussapoa, 1 times nest under accreted soil in low veg., 1 times in an garten in wurzeln Orchidee, 1 times ant gardens, 1 times ant garden, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 3 times Search, 1 times hand collecting, 1 times Malaise.

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1240 meters, 255 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1906-01-01 00:00:00.0 and 2014-08-18 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: Lectotype of Azteca gnava: casent0909662; paralectotype of Azteca gnava: casent0909663; syntype of Azteca ulei rossi: casent0909699, casent0909700; syntype of Azteca gnava surubrensis: casent0909664; type of Azteca ulei rossi: focol0539, focol0540, focol0541

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