Thursday, 31 January 2008

Camponotus rufoglaucus subsp. controversus

Camponotus rufoglaucus subsp. controversus is the second of the three species of Myrmosericus found in The Gambia. This is another ant that was by no means easy to identify.

It is clearly C. rufoglaucus because of the arrangement of the pubescence on the gaster, the smoothly rounded propodeum and the very compressed tibia (visible in the bottom picture). However, C. rufoglaucus sens. str. is an Indian species; in Africa there are at least seven subspecies. The two Gambian collections were identified as C. rufoglaucus subsp. controversus from type descriptions, since the tibia are clearly compressed, the head and mesosoma are entirely red, and the legs are black.

I also found some specimens labelled as C. rufoglaucus subsp. controversus in the London Natural History Museum, though not types and majors only. These specimens had a greater number of setae all over and pubescence on the gaster that was not as divergent, but identical colouration. However, as these were not types and the pubescence on the gaster was different from the type description I'm not convinced that they were identified accurately.

I also checked some of the many C. rufoglaucus sens. str. specimens in the museum collection. These were clearly not the same as my specimens (the Indian and Ugandan specimens in the museum collection were also not the same as each other), and again had less divergent pubescence on the gaster.

C. rufoglaucus subsp. controversus had been previously recorded from Tanzania, Zaire and Angola, so these Gambian collections represent a north-west range extension. They were collected only in Kololi as single workers on the sandy ground; no colonies were located.

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