Zatania karstica (Fontenla, 2000)

John S. Lapolla, Robert J. Kallal & Seán G. Brady, 2012, A new ant genus from the Greater Antilles and Central America, Zatania (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), exemplifies the utility of male and molecular character systems, Systematic Entomology 37, pp. 200-214: 211-212

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Zatania karstica (Fontenla, 2000)


Zatania karstica (Fontenla, 2000)  , comb.n. [ Figs 20, 21 (worker)]

Prenolepis karstica Fontenla, 2000: 84  (worker described). Holotype worker, Cuba: Pinar del Río Province, near Ceja de Francisco, Sierra de Mesa (IESC) (examined).

Worker diagnosis. Overall coloration uniformly dark brown; scattered erect setae on head, pronotum and gaster; no erect setae on scapes, mesonotum or propodeum; whitish pubescence scattered across body; dorsal face of propodeum distinctly dome-like.

Notes. The workers of this species are the only extant species that is uniformly coloured, making them relatively easy to identify. Fontenla (2000) discussed the interesting behaviour of Z. karstica  workers. In other Zatania  species workers are fast-moving individuals (not surprising given the long legs observed in workers), but in Z. karstica  the workers are slower (although Fontenla did not qualify this), and they often display what he termed a frozen pose as they moved along. Fontenla (2000) suggested that this behaviour was related to the fact that the species is putatively restricted to living on limestone mogotes, and that the coloration of Z. karstica  mimics Temnothorax  ants ( Temnothorax gundlachi  and T. poeyi), with which it lives sympatrically. It has been suggested that the coloration of the Temnothorax  ants is aposematic (Wilson, 1988; Fontenla, 1995), and therefore Fontenla (2000) speculated that Z. karstica  is engaged in some kind of convergent mimicry to protect them against Anolis  lizards, presumably one of their main predators. We have not personally observed this species in the field, but Z. karstica  may be an interesting candidate for the study of adaptations (morphological and behavioural) of ants to living on limestone mogotes.