Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia
Costa Rica, Mexico. Costa Rica: Monteverde.
Color black; face smooth and shiny, highly polished; mesosoma relatively gracile, dorsal face of propodeum as long as or longer than posterior face; ventral margin of petiole flat, lacking anteroventral tooth.
Similar species: spininodis, praedator.
This is a local variant of L. praedator. I know it mainly from six different collections in Monteverde, all within an area of a square kilometer or so. It forms massive carpet raids, like L. praedator, and the raids can be day or night. This is a montane cloud forest site, with a sharp transition to moist forest and dry forest as one descends on the Pacific slope. The collections have all been from the ridge crest cloud forest at 1500m down to the strip of moist forest just below the community, around 1350m. Typical L. praedator is common just a few kilometers away in the upper Rio Pe–as Blancas valley, at 1200m and below. Montane sites in other Cordilleras in Costa Rica have typical L. praedator.
On cursory examination of L. praedator in museum collections I have seen considerable variation in the strength of sculpture, but nothing approaching the highly polished condition of this Monteverde form, with the exception of one specimen. The additional specimen is from Encarnaci—n, Campeche, Mexico. It was collected by H. M. Smith in 1936, from the stomach of the frog Hypopachus variolosus. In Costa Rica this population appears to be a highly differentiated form of L. praedator, isolated on one mountain, and micro-parapatric with typical praedator. The occurrence of the Mexican specimen suggests that other populations of the shiny-face form exist. It remains to be seen whether some form of local selection can cause independent and convergent instances of this phenotype, or if it is a species with an ancestry separate from L. praedator.
John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA. email@example.com
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