ADDITIONS TO THE HYPERDIVERSE ANT GENUS PHEIDOLE (HYMENOPTERA: FORMICIDAE: MYRMICINAE) TAXONOMY IN THE BRAZILIAN ATLANTIC FOREST
Alexandre Casadei Ferreira, Alexandre Casadei Ferreira , Rodrigo Machado Feitosa
Pós-Graduação em Entomologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil; Laboratório de Sistemática e Biologia de Formigas, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil ; Laboratório de Sistemática e Biologia de Formigas, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Among the ant genera, Pheidole Westwood 1839 is one of the largest with 1.004 currently described species worldwide. About 700 of these species are present in the New World, with nearly 600 species in Neotropics. Considering the taxonomic publications including this genus, the 2003 Wilson’s revision on Pheidole of the New World is the most comprehensive study in geographic coverage and species richness (630 only in this publication). Even with this monumental publication, the taxonomy of Pheidole in the Neotropics has a significative knowledge deficit, mainly when we consider the different Brazilian biomes, with a high number of undescribed species for this genus. Among the different phytogeographic formations of the country, we can find in the Atlantic Forest a unique habitat diversity, and one of the most prominent hotspots for biodiversity in the world. The different physiognomies, climate, topography and particularities of Atlantic Forest can strongly influence the Pheidole diversity. The present proposal aims to access the Pheidole species distribution and delimitation in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil. Until the moment, 2.673 specimens were examined representing 63 nominal species and 42 morphotypes. The research covered 11 Brazilian states and 59 municipalities included in the Atlantic Forest domain, encompassing the main phytophysiognomies in this biome (coastal forest, dense ombrophylous forest, mixed ombrophylous forest, semideciduous seasonal forest). The next steps involve providing a morphological diagnosis for all species, describing the new ones, and developing an interactive identification key. We also will describe sexuals, minor and major workers for those species for which these castes and subcastes are not known. Finally, the present research will characterize the genus diversity, distribution and species delimitation in Atlantic Forest, contributing to a better understanding about this prominent ant genus in taxonomic perspectives.