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The Ants of Southern Australia

The Ants of Southern Australia

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The Ants of Southern Australia

Longitud:
102 página
39 minutos
Publicado:
Jan 1, 1991
ISBN:
9780643102354
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

The primary aim of this guide is to enable non-specialists to identify the genera and more common species of ants occurring in cool and wet southern Australia. This region represents a distinct biogeographic zone within Australia, and taxa occuring predominantly within it are said to have a Bassian distribution.

Publicado:
Jan 1, 1991
ISBN:
9780643102354
Formato:
Libro

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The Ants of Southern Australia - Alan Anderson

THE ANTS

of

SOUTHERN

AUSTRALIA

A Guide to the Bassian Fauna

THE ANTS

of

SOUTHERN

AUSTRALIA

A Guide to the Bassian Fauna

Alan N. Andersen

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry

Andersen, Alan N. (Alan Neil), 1957–

The ants of southern Australia.

Bibliography.

ISBN 0 643 05152 X

I. Ants Australia. II. CSIRO. II. Title.

595.7960994

© CSIRO Australia 1991

Edited by Sally Paxton, CSIRO Editorial Services

Cover design by Kerri Slaven, CSIRO Print Advisory Service

Production by CSIRO Print Advisory Service

Cover photograph by Jim Frazier

Myrmecia bravinoda (bulldog ants) with larvae.

Available from

CSIRO Publications

314 Albert Street

East Melbourne VIC 3002

Australia

Telephone (03) 418 7392

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Taxa and Figures

General Biology

Community Ecology

The Bassian Fauna

Myrmeciinae

Ponerinae

Myrmicinae

Dolichoderinae

Formicinae

Glossary

References

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am particularly indebted to John Greenslade, CSIRO Division of Soils, for stimulating and fostering my interest in ants and for his comments on the manuscript. The production of the manuscript was also assisted in various ways by B. Heterick, M.E. McKaige, J.D. Majer, R. W. Taylor and G. Watson, to whom I am most grateful. I also thank the National Parks Service of Victoria for allowing me to collect extensively in Victorian National Parks, particularly at Wilson’s Promontory, and the Royal Society of Victoria for financial support. Much of the manuscript was written while I was holding a Postgraduate Writing-up Award in the School of Botany, University of Melbourne. It was expertly typed by Anna Palmer and Jenny Larcombe, and Figure 1 was drafted by Darryl Murphy, all from the Division of Wildlife and Ecology, CSIRO. Finally, I give special thanks to Terry O’Brien, who played an instrumental role in the publication of this guide.

INTRODUCTION

Ants are among the most familiar and conspicuous of all insect groups in Australia, and are obviously important in our terrestrial ecosystems. Their nesting activities have a major influence on soil structure (de Bruyn & Conacher 1990); as scavengers they accelerate nutrient-cycling (Greenslade & Greenslade 1984a); they are important predators and competitors of other arthropods; they are prey to a wide variety of reptiles, birds and mammals; and they have a major impact on plant growth and reproduction (Buckley 1982, Beattie 1985, Huxley & Cutler 1991). Despite their importance, the biology of Australian ants is poorly known, and in fact most species have not even been named. Approximately 1200 species from about 100 genera have so far been described from Australia (Taylor & Brown 1985), but these represent only a fraction of our exceptionally rich ant fauna. Hundreds of unnamed species are known from collections, and undoubtedly many more are yet to be collected.

A major hindrance to furthering our knowledge of Australian ants has been the difficulty in identifying them. Very few professional ecologists or amateur naturalists can recognise even the most common ant genera. This contrasts with the situation for some other large insect groups, such as beetles and butterflies, which have attracted the expert attention of many enthusiasts.

Only recently has any popular guide to Australian ants been published: P. J. M. Greenslade’s (1979) excellent Guide to the Ants of South Australia which, for the first time, allows the non-specialist to identify most of the common genera occurring in southern Australia. However the guide focuses on an arid fauna, which differs markedly from those of mesic regions, and it does not attempt to identify ants beyond the generic level. There is therefore a pressing need for guides to the ants of other regions in Australia, including identifications to species level.

The primary aim of this guide is to enable non-specialists to identify the genera and more common species of ants occurring in cool and wet southern Australia. This region represents a distinct biogeographic zone within Australia, and taxa occurring predominantly within it are said to have a Bassian distribution. Bassian ant taxa include entire genera (e.g. Prolasius, Notoncus, Myrmecorhyncus), as well as distinctive groups within widespread genera (e.g. Iridomyrmex, Monomorium, Camponotus, Polyrhachis, Podomyrma). Most other species in the region belong to genera or species-groups that are widely distributed throughout Australia (and often elsewhere in the world). Eyrean (arid) taxa, such as Melophorus, Meranoplus, and many groups within Monomorium and Iridomyrmex, and particularly Torresian (tropical) taxa, such as Polyrhachis subgenus Hagiomyrma, are poorly represented.

The poor species-level taxonomy of Australian ants means that most species cannot be identified with certainty. However many can be referred to names representing informal species-groups, which throughout this

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