How much variation can one ant species hold? Species delimitation in the Crematogaster kelleri-group in Madagascar

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 9;8(7):e68082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068082. Print 2013.

Abstract

We investigated the species-level taxonomy of the Malagasy Crematogaster (Crematogaster) kelleri-group and an additional more distantly related species of the same subgenus. Morphological data from worker, queen and male ants, as well as genetic data from three nuclear genes (long wavelength rhodopsin, arginine kinase and carbomoylphosphate synthase) and one mitochondrial marker (cytochrome oxidase I) led to the recognition of six species. Within the C. kelleri-group, three new species are described: C. hazolava Blaimer sp. n., C. hafahafa Blaimer sp. n. and C. tavaratra Blaimer sp. n. The previously described taxa C. kelleri Forel and C. madagascariensis André are validated by our analysis. Conversely, our data suggests synonymy of C. adrepens Forel (with C. kelleri) and C. gibba Emery (with C. madagascariensis). A more distantly related and phylogenetically isolated species, C. tsisitsilo Blaimer sp. n., is further described. We report high levels of morphological and molecular variation in C. kelleri and illustrate that this variation can be explained partly by geography. Species descriptions, images, distribution maps and identification keys based on worker ants, as well as on queen and male ants where available, are presented for all six species. Our work highlights the elevated species richness of Crematogaster ants throughout Madagascar's humid forests, especially in the far northern tip of the island, and the need to use multiple data sources to ensure clear demarcation of this diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants / anatomy & histology
  • Ants / classification*
  • Ants / genetics
  • Biodiversity*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Madagascar
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Population Dynamics
  • Species Specificity

Substances

  • Electron Transport Complex IV

Associated data

  • GENBANK/DQ176164
  • GENBANK/HM418724
  • GENBANK/HM418732
  • GENBANK/HM418747
  • GENBANK/HM418769
  • GENBANK/HM418776
  • GENBANK/HM418781
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  • GENBANK/JN129942
  • GENBANK/JN129957
  • GENBANK/JN283108
  • GENBANK/JN283112
  • GENBANK/JN283150
  • GENBANK/JN283154
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  • GENBANK/JN283308
  • GENBANK/JQ326688
  • GENBANK/JQ326746
  • GENBANK/JQ326749
  • GENBANK/JQ326754
  • GENBANK/JQ326758
  • GENBANK/JQ326949
  • GENBANK/KC501925
  • GENBANK/KC501926
  • GENBANK/KC501927
  • GENBANK/KC501928
  • GENBANK/KC501929
  • GENBANK/KC501930
  • GENBANK/KC501931
  • GENBANK/KC501932
  • GENBANK/KC501933
  • GENBANK/KC501934
  • GENBANK/KC501935
  • GENBANK/KC501936
  • GENBANK/KC501937
  • GENBANK/KC501938
  • GENBANK/KC501939
  • GENBANK/KC501940
  • GENBANK/KC501941
  • GENBANK/KC501942
  • GENBANK/KC501943
  • GENBANK/KC501944
  • GENBANK/KC501945
  • GENBANK/KC501946
  • GENBANK/KC501947
  • GENBANK/KC501948
  • GENBANK/KC501949
  • GENBANK/KC501950
  • GENBANK/KC501951
  • GENBANK/KC501952
  • GENBANK/KC501953
  • GENBANK/KC501954
  • GENBANK/KC501955
  • GENBANK/KC501956
  • GENBANK/KC514936
  • GENBANK/KC514937
  • GENBANK/KC514938
  • GENBANK/KC514939
  • GENBANK/KC514940
  • GENBANK/KC514941
  • GENBANK/KC514942

Grant support

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (www.nsf.gov; grants DEB-0072713, DEB-0344731, DEB-0842395 to B.L.F., DEB-0842204 to P.S. Ward and DEB-1107515 to B.B.B. and P.S. Ward), the Entomology Department at UC Davis (entomology.ucdavis.edu; B.B.B.), the National Geographic Society (www.nationalgeographic.com; W173-11 to B.B.B.) and the American Philosophical Society (www.amphilsoc.org; Lewis & Clark grant to B.B.B.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.