WHO IS AFRAID OF APICOTEMITINAE (ISOPTERA: TERMITIDAE), THE MOST ABUNDANT TERMITE GROUP OF THE NEOTROPICS
Joice Paulo Constantini, Joice Paulo Constantini , Eliana Marques Cancello
Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil ; Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Despite their ecological relevance, the neotropical soldierless termites, were taxonomically understudied, and no comprehensive work was done on comparative morphology on them. So, there is a gap in the understanding of the variation presented by some characters (specially from the gut) in the whole group. External and internal morphology of 600 Apicotermitinae from the Atlantic Forest samples housed in the MZUSP were studied, along with the types from the American Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution National Museum. The digestive tube of the species, including the enteric valve (EV), were dissected and analyzed for each sample. The comparative study gave support for new hypothesis to group species at the genera level, and allowed to evaluate informative characters that have being neglected in recent published articles, like: differences in the mandibles of workers and imagoes, specially the molar region; sexual dimorphism in the alates (specially color and shape of the fontanelle); presence of glands or structures similar to glands in the thorax and first abdominal segments. We were able to identify 34 species, 19 of them are new to science, and the other 15 were already described species that had their known distribution extended. The study of the type material enabled the improvement of the descriptions of species that have problematic diagnosis. We conclude that the EV should be used carefully as species diagnosis, since many very distinct species groups have similar EV morphology. Descriptions of those new taxa will enable faunistic studies to be comparable, leading to a better understanding of this group in Neotropical ecosystems.