Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia
Throughout tropical South America, Central America to Guatemala. Costa Rica: throughout the country in wet forest habitats, low and middle elevations. Hitoy Cerere, Turrialba, La Selva Biological Station and north slope Volcan Barba to 800m, Monteverde (San Luis Valley), Carara, Osa.
Eyes composed of 2-4 facets (up to 6 in robust individuals); in full face view eyes situated dorsally, not breaking outline of side of head; puncta on face small relative to interspaces, face sublucid; petiolar node tapering to a rounded summit; color dark brown. Measurement data.
This species occurs in leaf litter on the forest floor. I know it mainly from Winkler and Berlese samples. At Sirena in Corcovado National Park, I observed 10 adults emerging from the leaf litter and attacking an earthworm that was exposed on a dead leaf.
Ponera distinguenda Emery 1890:61. Holotype (unique syntype) worker: Venezuela: San Esteban. Emery mentions additional material of the same species from Matto Grosso and Paraguay.
Bill Brown identified Osa material of this species (JTL5Jan82/0924) as H. distinguenda, in the early 1980's. Kempf (1972) lists distinguenda s.s. from sites throughout South America, variety dispar from Brazil, variety histrio from Brazil and Argentina, subspecies inexpedita from southern Brazil, and subspecies vana from Guatemala. Mann's perplexa, from Guatemala, may also be part of this complex.
I currently recognize three taxa in Costa Rica that differ in little other than size: JTL-006 (the largest), distinguenda (middle size), and JTL-007 (the smallest). Brown might have considered them all to be one species, and further research will be needed to (1) confirm or reject the distinctness of the taxa in Costa Rica, (2) understand the limits of the taxa outside of Costa Rica, and (3) determine appropriate names for the Costa Rican species.
I examined a worker at MCZC with labels (1) Cotypus; (2) Paraguay, Balzan; (3) Ponera distinguenda Em Paraguay; and (4) Coll. Forel. I assume this is part of the material identified by Emery as distinguenda. The measurements matched the middle-size species in Costa Rica, and so I use distinguenda as the name of this form.
Emery, C. 1890. Voyage de M. E. Simon au Venezuela (Decembre 1887 - Avril 1888). Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. (6)10:55-76.
John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.email@example.com
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