Chucanti Ants

In January, 2015, the Contributing biologists spent three days collecting ants at Chucantí.
Ants were collected with a combination of Winkler sifting, hand collecting, and Malaise trap. Most collecting was concentrated along a trail from the reserve lodging, at 800m elevation, to the ridge crest at 1340m. Some collecting was along the hike into the site, starting at 90m elevation in pasture. The habitat was a mix of second growth and mature moist forest around the cabins. Litter conditions were dry around the cabins, but somewhat abruptly shifted to wet, mossy cloud forest between 1200-1300m.
Notable Discoveries
Two specimens of the rare genus Lenomyrmex were collected. It appears to be a new species, similar to L. wardi, but differing in a few sculptural and shape characters.
Males of Leptanilloides were collected in a Malaise trap. This is an easily overlooked ant group. The tiny subterranean workers are rarely encountered, but males in Malaise traps are relatively common in Central America.
Leptogenys volcanica is a rare cloud forest ant previously only known from Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Myrmelachista are arboreal ants that nest inside live or dead stems. Some species are specialized inhabitants of understory trees in the avocado family (Lauraceae), nesting entirely in the live stems and usually completely filling the stems of individual trees. We found a new species of Myrmelachista that was relatively common in understory Lauraceae. These relationships between Myrmelachista and Lauraceae are only found in mature evergreen forest. They are an example of a part of the biota that requires protected reserves like Chucantí to survive.
The genus Strumigenys contains a high diversity of small predaceous ants, most of which live in leaf litter and rotting wood. We found one strikingly distinct new species whose closest relative is S. minuscula, which is known from a few specimens from southern Brazil. The other significant find was two additional specimens of S. parsauga, a species previously known from a single specimen from the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica.

 

Contributed by:

John T. Longino and Michael Branstetter, Department of Biology, The University of Utah

Philip Ward, Department of Entomology, The University of California, Davis
For additional information look at Ants of Chucanti