Pheidole bicarinata

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 561-562

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Pheidole bicarinata


Pheidole bicarinata  HNS  Mayr

Pheidole bicarinata  HNS  Mayr 1870b: 989. Syn.: Pheidole bicarinata r. vinelandica  HNS  Forel 1886b: xlv, raised to species level by Naves 1985: 66, n. syn; Pheidole vinelandica var. longula Emery  HNS  1895d: 292, n. syn. (types examined by author); Pheidole vinelandica subsp. laeviuscula Emery  HNS  1895d: 292, synonymy by Creighton 1950a: 172; Pheidole vinelandica subsp. buccalis Wheeler  HNS  1908h: 454, synonymy by Cole 1956c: 114; Pheidole vinelandica subsp. longula var. castanea Wheeler  HNS  1915b: 405, unavailable name inomial), referred to vinelandica  HNS  , hence bicarinata  HNS  in this treatment, by Creighton 1950a: 171; Pheidole (Allopheidole) vinelandica var. nebracensis  HNS  Forel 1922b: 92, synonymy by Gregg 1959: 18; Pheidole hayesi M. R. Smith  HNS  1924d: 251, synonymy by Creighton 1950a: XIX; Pheidole vinelandica subsp. longula var. huachucana M. R. Smith  HNS  195lc: 805, unavailable name (quadrinomial), material referred to buccalis  HNS  , hence synonymous with bicarinata  HNS  in the present treatment, by M. R. Smith 1958c: 120.

Types Naturhist. Mus. Wien.

Etymology L bicarinata  HNS  , double-ridged, two-carinal, possibly referring to the carinae of the clypeus.

diagnosis A member of the " bicarinata  HNS  complex" belonging to the larger pilifera  HNS  group, comprising agricola  HNS  , aurea  HNS  , bajaensis  HNS  , barbata  HNS  , bicarinata  HNS  , centeotl  HNS  , cerebrosior  HNS  , ceres  HNS  , defecta  HNS  , macclendoni  HNS  , marcidula  HNS  , paiute  HNS  , pinealis  HNS  , psammophila  HNS  , xerophila  HNS  , yaqui  HNS  , axi& yucatana  HNS  , which complex is characterized by the large to very large, forward-set eyes, of both castes; and in the major, the occipital lobes lacking any sculpturing (except in aurea  HNS  ), the posterior half of the head capsule smooth and shiny; and the postpetiolar node seen from above oval, elliptical, or laterally angulate (cornulate in cerebrosior  HNS  ). P. bicarinata  HNS  is distinguished within the complex by the following combination of traits.

Major: humerus in dorsal-oblique view dentate to subangulate; propodeal spine moderately long and stout; petiolar node in side view tapered; lateral margins of postpetiolar node seen from above acute-angular; anterior fringe of pronotal dorsum transversely carinulate, remainder mostly smooth and shiny; lateral margins of pronotal dorsum carinulate or not; mesonotal dorsum foveolate and opaque to mostly smooth and shiny; dorsum of propodeum foveolate and opaque and carinulate or not.

Minor: humerus in dorsal-oblique view obtusely subangulate; petiole variable in size and shape, from small and equilaterally triangular to moderately elongate.

P. bicarinata  HNS  is a taxonomically difficult species (or, possibly, complex of closely similar species). It is highly variable, especially geographically, in propodeal and pronotal sculpturing, and as suggested above, in development of the propodeal spine, and in color. The variation among different characters is discordant to some degree, and intermediates within the respective characters occur. I believe it prudent for the present to leave the described infraspecific forms as a single species (I am indebted to Philip S. Ward for valuable information and advice on the variation and status of bicarinata  HNS  ).

measurements (mm) Major (Brown Co. State Park, Indiana): HW 1.04, HL 1.14, SL 0.54, EL 0.14, PW 0.52. Minor (Brown Co. State Park): HW 0.54, HL 0.58, SL 0.50, EL 0.12, PW 0.34.

Color Major: body varying geographically, from clear yellow in the western parts of the range to brownish yellow to dark brown in the east.

Minor: clear yellow to medium brown.

Range New Jersey to northern Florida and west through Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas to Utah and Nevada.

Biology P. bicarinata  HNS  is highly adaptable across its range in both habitat and nest site. In Colorado, Gregg (1963) recorded bicarinata  HNS  between 1000 and 2100 m, nesting in rotten logs as well as various types of soil beneath stones. The habitats occupied were very diverse, comprising pinyon-cedar and mixed deciduous woodland, canyon-bottom meadows, shortgrass prairie, and sagebrush desert. In Utah and Nevada, bicarinata  HNS  occurs from sagebrush desert to montane woodland, nesting under stones and pieces of wood, as well as crater nests in open soil (Ingham 1959, 1963; Cole 1966b; Allred and Cole 1979). In western Texas, it has been found in xeric habitats in open soil and under stones, cow dung, a bale of hay, and in cracks in asphalt. Beck et al., studying scavenging ants of Utah, observed workers feeding on dead rodents. Males were found in one Colorado nest in early July. In the eastern United States the species favors sandy soils with some clay content. It is often abundant in open, disturbed grassy areas, such as lawns, golf courses, and abandoned fields (Stefan Cover, personal communication). It is omnivorous in diet, and regularly harvests seeds. Diana E. Wheeler and Frederik Nijhout used bicarinata  HNS  in their pioneering studies to demonstrate the role of juvenile hormone in the determination of the major and minor subcastes; they traced development through four larval instars (see D. E. Wheeler 1991).

figure Upper: "typical" bicarinata major  HNS  . Lower: "typical" bicarinata minor  HNS  . INDIANA: Brown County State Park (Edward O. Wilson). (Lower propodeum is of " vinelandica  HNS  " variant major from Calvert Cliffs State Park, Calvert Co., Maryland; see description of other variation in Diagnosis and Color below.) Scale bars = 1 mm.