Ants of Costa Rica

List of Genera by Subfamily

NEW: Lachnomyrmex updated with new revision by Feitosa and Brandao.

NEW: Bariamyrma discovered in Costa Rica.

NEW: Report of ants collected on 2008 Ant Course in Venezuela.

NEW: Dorymyrmex and Forelius pages posted: Dorymyrmex, Forelius.

NEW: Wasmannia pages updated, with key and pages for all known species: click here.

Report of miniWinkler survey of litter ants of Osa Biodiversity Center, March 2010.

Report of miniWinkler survey of litter ants of Osa Biodiversity Center, March 2008.

How I record collection codes in an Excel file and use them to print labels

Picture Guide to Costa Rican Ant Genera

How to interpret names used in species accounts

How to mount ants for museum study

Ant Plant Relationships

Report of high-elevation ant fauna from Barva transect.

Other links

A set of links I really like (especially because Ants of Costa Rica is called "Mother of websites on regional ant faunas"), on Jochen Bihn's Ants of Cachoeira site.

AntWeb California Academy of Sciences, Brian Fisher et al.

Alex Wild's, the coolest ant website around.

Alpert et al. 2007 taxonomic catalogue of the ants of the world

American Museum Social Insects website

William L. Brown Memorial Digital Library

William and Emma Mackay Ants of North America site

Gordon and Roy Snelling New World Army Ants

Notes from Underground

Mike Kaspari's Ants of Barro Colorado Island

Chris Schmidt's Ponerinae site



This web resource provides species-level information on the ants of Costa Rica. The basic information unit is a species web page. The page for a particular species contains images, identification tips, geography, natural history, and recommendations on how to collect the species. Linked to these species pages are various synthetic documents, such as keys and species lists. There is a genus list, which contains all the ant genera known to occur in Costa Rica, and there is a picture guide to these genera. The picture guide is not a key; for technical keys to the ant genera of the world refer to Bolton (1994) or Holldobler and Wilson (1990).

The genera are linked to species lists. Species in the species lists are linked to species pages. A species list may also have a link to a key, and the key also has links to the species pages.

The content will be sparse for a while, as information is added genus by genus. Scroll up and down the genus list to find the highlighted genera, which are the ones that link to further information.

The resources available here are meant to be a never-ending works-in-progress, with constant additions, modifications, and updates. They should not be viewed with the same authority as the published taxonomic literature. In many cases they may be my rough notions of species boundaries and identities, based largely on my own collections. The objective is to provide identification tools and images as quickly as possible. The resources here have been paid for by various public agencies, and so are public domain.

Bolton, B. 1994. Identification Guide to the Ant Genera of the World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Holldobler, B., and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

How to interpret the names used in species accounts

A species account is based on a set of specimens that are similar enough (usually on morphological grounds) to be considered the same species. When the type specimen of a published species (or any available species-group name; e.g. subspecies) is known or thought to fall within this set of specimens, the species account bears the full species name, including the author of the name and the year of publication.

When a set of specimens is thought to be a new species, and a provisional name has been proposed but not published yet, the species account may bear the provisional name, the author, and "ms" (for manuscript name) instead of a year of publication. It is very important that these provisional names not be viewed as "available" (satisfying the technical requirements of publication of new names, as stated by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature [ICZN]). The third edition (1985) of the ICZN is fairly clear about the unavailability of electronically published names (Article 8) and names explicitly stated as provisional (Article 15). Furthermore, a discussion of the draft of the 4th edition (The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. General session of the Commission, Budapest, 16-23 August 1996. B.Z.N. 53(4), 234-238) states "Further points agreed by the Commission included [...] electronic sources (e.g. World Wide Web) from which copies could be obtained on demand would not constitute published work (Art. 9)" and "a work published after 1998 other than by printing on paper (e.g. on laser disk) would only be available if containing a statement that it was intended for permanent record and that copies printed on paper had been deposited in at least ten named libraries (Art. 8)." Later in that issue (p242), in a report on an IUBS workshop, it was reported that "Publication of new names in durable unalterable media which are not readable by eye (such as CD-ROM) should only be acceptable under specified conditions [presumably as above], and electronic networks were not regarded as publications."

If someone uses a provisional name in a publication (for example, a species list in an ecological study, or the name of an organism in a behavioral study), does this constitute availability? According to article 13 of the ICZN, to be available a name must be accompanied by a description or definition purported to differentiate the taxon, or be "accompanied by a bibliographic reference to such a published statement" (italics mine). Thus, if provisional names are to be used in a publication, avoid including diagnostic information, and ideally make an explicit disclaimer that the names are not being proposed as new. I suppose you could cite the Web pages as your source, construed as a "personal communication" and not a published statement.

Genera that are diverse and show high levels of geographic variation may have no synthetic revisions or keys, yet still contain many described species and subspecies. Local faunal surveys produce specimens of these genera that may be sorted into locally defined species. The task of identifying the local species involves comparing specimens to published descriptions of all available names in the genus, and, because published descriptions may not sufficiently describe diagnostic characters, comparing specimens to the type specimens of the available names. Type specimens are dispersed in museums throughout the world. These are substantial, time-consuming tasks. Even if these tasks can be accomplished, two or more local species may closely match a type specimen from a distant locality, or a local species may differ slightly but consistently from a distant type specimen. Allopatry or lack of specimens from intervening regions often prevent examination of geographic variation. Knowledge of local species often accumulates in the physical position of specimens in research collections and in the pages of taxonomists' notebooks, but otherwise remains inaccessible. In an effort to relieve this bottleneck, I am "publishing" species accounts for locally-defined species for which the identification process has not been completed. These bear a code number, (e.g. JTL-017) followed by author and "ms." Unless otherwise indicated in the text of the species account, these do not necessarily represent new species. Future taxonomic research may result in their identification as a previously published species, or they may turn out to be new. In some cases, the identification process may be partially completed, such that a local species is determined to be close to or possibly conspecific with the type of a published name, in which case the code name may be followed by the published name (e.g., JTL-017 (cf. longipes Mayr) Longino ms.).

Page author:

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505

Date of this version: 17 September 2010.

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