Three endemic Aphaenogaster from the Siculo-Maltese archipelago and the Italian Peninsula: part of a hitherto unrecognized species group from the Maghreb? (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae)

Antonio Alicata, Enrico Schifani

Abstract


More than 100 years ago, the Italian myrmecologist Carlo Emery described two endemic Sicilian ants: Aphaenogaster sicula Emery, 1908, which he originally considered a subspecies of A. crocea André, 1881, and A. fiorii Emery, 1915 stat. nov., which he believed was a subspecies of A. gibbosa (Latreille, 1798). Males of the two species and the queen of A. fiorii were never described. The scarcity of information contained in the original description led to several misunderstandings by subsequent authors: for example, A. sicula was later elevated to species-rank on the basis of misidentified material of A. fiorii stat. nov. We redescribe the two species, adding the descriptions of their missing castes and designating their lectotypes. We also describe a third related species of the genus: A. trinacriae sp. nov. from Sicily. The ecology and distribution of the three are illustrated. Their relationship with the other congeneric species of the Mediterranean basin is discussed considering the morphology of all three castes, with attention to the often-overlooked males. Despite the fact that A. fiorii and A. sicula were lately believed to be close relatives of A. subterranea (Latreille, 1798), the morphological elements available suggest that they probably belong to a separate, hitherto unrecognized clade from the Maghreb (North-Western Africa), together with A. trinacriae sp. nov.

Keywords


Hymenoptera; Formicidae; Stenammini; allopatric speciation; ant males; biogeography; Mediterranean basin; Palaearctic Region

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