Sunday, 21 October 2007

Tetraponera ambigua

My Tetraponera ambigua specimens have been the subject of some friendly debate, as Brian Taylor and I have been discussing them. I noted before that they have three ocelli, albeit reduced ones, but they have particularly wide postpetioles as well.

I've now conducted a very detailed investigation, including comparing the morphometrics of my specimens with Ward's (2006) measurements, and am convinced that they fall within Ward's broad definition. The ocelli number and postpetiole width (which Ward does not include in his paper) seems to add to the overall variability of this species.

There is probably still a chance that T. ambigua is a species complex, which is hinted at by Ward. Brian Taylor suggested 'Sima ambigua Em. r. erythraea v. occidentalis Stitz 1917' as a possible identity for my specimens, which has the broader postpetiole and similar overall appearance, but is more sparsely hairy and probably lacks ocelli. Nothing so far described seems to be a perfect match for what I've got.

I often find myself thinking that if organisms such as these occurred in Europe they would have been split into dozens of species, like Lasius, Myrmica, Formica, etc. Africa probably needs the attention of more taxonomists.

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