Towards a taxonomic revision of the ant genus Prionopelta Mayr, 1866 for the Neotropical region
Natalia Maritza Ladino López, Natalia Maritza Ladino López
Departamento de Zoologia, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil; Departamento de Zoologia, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Among the world geographic areas explored regarding their biodiversity, the Neotropical region has been highlighted as one whose conditions particularly favor species diversification. With a worldwide distribution, Amblyoponinae is considered a subfamily of ants with uncertain internal relationships. Among its genera, Prionopelta includes small predator ants of cryptobiotic habits recognized by the combination of an inconspicuous denticulate lamella located at the anterior margin of clypeus, mandibles always tridentate and adjacent to clypeus when closed. Prionopelta is represented by 22 species in the world, five of them occurring in the Neotropical region: P. amabilis, P. antillana, P. marthae, P. modesta, and P. punctulata. However, there are no comprehensive taxonomic works conducted for Prionopelta in the Neotropics. After examining specimens from different recognized institutions, I propose a delimitation of the Neotropical species, using as main criteria the number of antenomeres, shape of clypeus and denticulate lamella, sculpture of head dorsum, and pubescence. In that sense, the aim of the present proposal is to provide a first comprehensive taxonomic revision of the genus Prionopelta for the Neotropical Region. Detailed morphological redescriptions and descriptions will be provided for the already known and the potential new species, respectively. In addition, an identification key, distribution maps, and high-resolution illustrations will be provided to all species and castes obtained. Up to date, three species previously known have been recognized, P. punctulata, P. modesta and P. antillana, the latter including P. amabilis as a synonym. Three possible new species for the genus are recognized. The present study intends to offer solid species delimitations in Prionopelta, and thus contribute to the increase of the taxonomic knowledge and the evolutionary history of Amblyoponinae.