Tetramorium electrum Bolton,

Hita Garcia, F. & B. L. Fisher, 2012, The ant genus Tetramorium Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Malagasy region - taxonomic revision of the T. kelleri and T. tortuosum species groups., Zootaxa 3592, pp. 1-85: 31-34

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Tetramorium electrum Bolton,


Tetramorium electrum Bolton,  1979

(Figs. 31, 53, 55, 84, 85, 86, 141)

Tetramorium electrum Bolton,  1979:144. Holotype worker, MADAGASCAR, Rte d'Anosibe, km 33, forest humus and litter, AB 44, 4.-12.IV.1975 (A. Peyrieras) (MCZ: CASENT0280589) [examined]. Paratypes, 11 workers with same data as holotype, and one worker from vic. Andasibe (= Perinet) 950-980 m, 2.-6.II.1977 (W.L. & D.E. Brown) (BMNH: CASENT0102350; MCZ: CASENT0280850; MCZ_paratype_32378) [examined].


Tetramorium electrum  is easily recognisable within the T. tortuosum  group in the Malagasy region due to the following combination of characters: propodeal spines very long to extremely long (PSLI 46-52); petiolar node around 1.3 to 1.6 times higher than long (LPeI 64-74); posterodorsal corner of petiole not strongly protruding posteriorly; body dark brown to black in colour.


HL 0.89-1.20 (1.07); HW 0.87-1.25 (1.08); SL 0.65-0.84 (0.77); EL 0.16-0.22 (0.19); PH 0.49-0.63 (0.55); PW 0.63-0.82 (0.75); WL 1.14-1.59 (1.34); PSL 0.44-0.60 (0.53); PTL 0.28-0.35 (0.31); PTH 0.38-0.47 (0.44); PTW 0.29-0.37 (0.33); PPL 0.32-0.40 (0.36); PPH 0.38-0.48 (0.43); PPW 0.37-0.44 (0.40); CI 98-104 (100); SI 67-74 (71); OI 16-19 (17); DMI 52-58 (56); LMI 39-44 (41); PSLI 46-52 (50); PeNI 41-46 (44); LPeI 64-74 (71); DPeI 100-114 (105); PpNI 50-59 (53); LPpI 77-89 (84); DPpI 106-116 (110); PPI 115-128 (122) (20 measured).

Head approximately as long as wide (CI 98-104). Anterior clypeal margin medially impressed. Posterior head margin weakly to moderately concave. Frontal carinae strongly developed, diverging posteriorly, and ending at corners of posterior head margin. Antennal scrobes weakly developed, shallow, narrow, and without defined posterior and ventral margins. Antennal scapes very short, not reaching posterior head margin (SI 67-74). Eyes small (OI 16-19). Mesosomal outline in profile weakly convex, moderately marginate from lateral to dorsal mesosoma; promesonotal suture and metanotal groove absent; mesosoma comparatively stout and high (LMI 39-44). Propodeal spines very long, spinose, and acute (PSLI 46-52); propodeal lobes strongly reduced, generally vestigial, sometimes very short, broadly triangular and blunt. Petiolar node in profile rectangular nodiform with moderately to sharply defined margins, around 1.3 to 1.6 times higher than long (LPeI 64-74), anterior and posterior faces often not parallel narrowing towards dorsum, anterodorsal and posterodorsal margins generally at approximately same height, dorsum straight to weakly convex, sometimes anterodorsal margin slightly higher than posterodorsal with dorsum tapering weakly backwards posteriorly; node in dorsal view as wide as long to 1.2 times wider than long (DPeI 100-114). Postpetiole in profile subglobular, approximately 1.1 to 1.3 times higher than long (LPpI 77-89); in dorsal view around 1.1 times wider than long (DPpI 106-116). Postpetiole in profile usually appearing a bit more voluminous than petiolar node, in dorsal view approximately 1.1 to 1.3 times wider than petiolar node (PPI 115-128). Mandibles ranging from completely unsculptured, smooth, and shining to finely striate, often partly striate and partly smooth; clypeus with three to six longitudinal rugulae, rugulae often broken and irregularly arranged; cephalic dorsum between frontal carinae with 8 to 12 longitudinal rugae, most rugae running unbroken from posterior head margin to posterior clypeus, rugae only very rarely with cross-meshes; scrobal area mostly unsculptured; lateral and ventral head longitudinally rugose with few cross-meshes. Mesosoma laterally and dorsally distinctly longitudinally rugose, often rugae on lateral mesosoma more irregularly arranged than on the dorsum. Forecoxae usually unsculptured, smooth, and shining, sometimes with superficial sculpture, rarely weakly reticulate-punctate or reticulate-rugulose. Waist segments with reticulate-rugose/rugulose to longitudinally rugose/rugulose sculpture, often weaker laterally. Ground sculpture everywhere on body faint to absent. First gastral tergite unsculptured, smooth, and shining. All dorsal surfaces of head, mesosoma, waist segments, and gaster with abundant, long, and fine standing hairs. First gastral tergite without appressed pubescence. Anterior edges of antennal scapes with decumbent to erect standing hairs. Body very dark brown to black in colour, sometimes of lighter brown.


Tetramorium electrum  is one of the most common and conspicuous genus members encountered in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Its distribution ranges from Andohahela in the southeast to Marojejy in the northeast. It is found at elevations from 25 to 1080 m, and appears to prefer the leaf litter stratum.

Within the species complex T. electrum  can be grouped together with T. elf  and T. isoelectrum  on the basis of shared morphology. Tetramorium elf  is not easily confused with T. electrum,  however, since the first is yellowish in colour with longer antennal scapes (SI 78-83) and petiolar node (DPeI 88-96), whereas T. electrum  is very dark brown to black in colour and the scapes and petiolar node are shorter (SI 67-74; DPeI 100-114). The head of T. elf  (CI 92-96) is also narrower than that of T. electrum  (CI 98-104). More challenging is the separation of T. electrum  from T. isoelectrum  since they are superficially very similar. Much like T. elf,  T. isoelectrum  also has longer antennal scapes (SI 81-84), a longer petiolar node (DPeI 87-97), and a less broad head (CI 93-96) compared to T. electrum.  Another difference is the petiolar node, which is lower and more square in T. isoelectrum  (LPeI 77-86) but higher and narrows towards the dorsum in T. electrum  (LPeI 64-74). Furthermore, T. electrum  is not likely to be misidentified with the remaining species of the complex due to the combination of very long to extremely long propodeal spines (PSLI 46-52), low and inconspicuous propodeal lobes, and comparatively high petiolar node.

The general similarity between T. electrum  and T. isoelectrum  offers the slight possibility that they may belong to the same species; however, this does not seem likely given the material examined in this study. Tetramorium electrum  is very common and we were able to examine several hundred specimens. Despite the variation mentioned below, the species seems to be relatively consistent throughout its range in eastern Madagascar. Tetramorium isoelectrum  is less common and only found in northeastern Madagascar, mostly north of the distribution range of T. electrum.  However, both species overlap in their distribution ranges and they are found in sympatry in Marojejy. There, both species retain their species-specific characteristics, and can be distinguished using the diagnostic notes provided in this revision. This piece of biogeographic evidence, in combination with the significant morphometric differences between the two species, provides strong support for their heterospecificity.

It must be noted that some morphological variation exists within T. electrum.  This fact is not surprising considering its large distribution range in eastern Madagascar. The mandibles are usually finely striate, but some populations have completely unsculptured mandibles while only partly sculptured mandibles are found in other series. The shape of the petiolar node is also somewhat variable. The node is usually rectangular nodiform but comparatively high. In many specimens the anterodorsal margin is slightly higher than the posterodorsal, which causes the dorsum to taper backwards, even if weakly (as in the holotype CASENT0280589). In other specimens the node narrows distinctly towards the dorsum but with the anterior and posterior faces almost mirror-inverted (like in the paratype specimens CASENT0102350 and CASENT0280850).

Material examined

MADAGASCAR: Antsiranana, Marojejy National Park, Sambava district, 5 km W of Manantenina village, 1st Camp site (Mantella), 14.4382 S, 49.774 E, 487 m, low altitude rainforest, 28.IV.-7.V.2005 (Rin'Ha & Mike); Antsiranana, Parc National de Marojejy, Manantenina River, 28.0 km 38° NE Andapa, 8.2 km 333° NNW Manantenina, 14.4367 S, 49.775 E, 450 m, rainforest, 12.-15.XI.2003 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Antsiranana, Masoala Peninsula, Ambavoany Forest, 15° 12' 28.7'' S, 50° 17' 20'' E, 30 m, primary rainforest, 26.IV.1996 (G.D. Alpert et al.); Fianarantsoa, 45 km S. Ambalavao, 22.2167 S, 47.0167 E, 785 m, rainforest, 24.-25.IX.1993 (B.L. Fisher); Fianarantsoa, Rés. Andringitra, 43 km S Ambalavao, 22.2333 S, 47 E, 825 m, rainforest, 4.-5.X.1993 (B.L. Fisher); Fianarantsoa, Parc National Befotaka-Midongy, Papango 27.7 km S Midongy-Sud, Mount Papango, 23.8352 S, 46.9637 E, 940 m, rainforest, 14.XI.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Fianarantsoa, 9.0 km NE Ivohibe, 22.4267 S, 46.9383 E, 900 m, rainforest, 12.-17.XI.1997 (B.L. Fisher); Fianarantsoa, Réserve Speciale Manombo 24.5 km 228° Farafangana, 23.0158 S, 47.719 E, 30 m, rainforest, 20.IV.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Fianarantsoa, Ranomafana Nat. Park, Ambohila, 21° 10' 9'' S, 47° 33' 7'' E, 700 m, montane rainforest, 23.VII.1992 (A. Kingman); Fianarantsoa, Ranomafana Nat. Park, Miaranony forest, 700 m, montane rainforest, 26.X.1992 (E. Raferiarison); Fianarantsoa, P.N. Ranomafana, Tolongoina-Ampasimpotsy, 21.4799 S, 47.5571 E, 577 m, rainforest, 13.III.-1.IV.2003 (V. Clark); Fianarantsoa, Forêt Classée Vatovavy, 7.6 km 122 º Kianjavato, 21.4 S, 47.94 E, 175 m, rainforest, 6.-8.VI.2005 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Fianarantsoa, Forêt de Vevembe, 66.6 km 293° Farafangana, 22.791 S, 47.1818 E, 600 m, rainforest, transition to montane forest, 23.IV.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Mahajanga, Réserve Spéciale Marotandrano, Marotandrano 48.3 km S Mandritsara, 16.2832 S, 48.8144 E, 865 m, transition humid forest, 6.-8.XII.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Montagne d'Akirindro 7.6 km 341° NNW Ambinanitelo, 15.2883 S, 49.5483 E, 600 m, rainforest, 17.-21.III.2003 (B.L. Fisher, C. Griswold et al.); Toamasina, 6.3 km S Ambanizana, Andranobe, 15.6813 S, 49.958 E, 25 m, rainforest, 15.XI.1993 (B.L. Fisher); Toamasina, 6.9 km NE Ambanizana, Ambohitsitondroina, 15.5667 S, 50 E, 825 m, rainforest, 2.-8.XII.1993 (B.L. Fisher); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato river, 16.7727 S, 49.2655 E, 450 m, rainforest, 20.-22.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.7691 S, 49.267 E, 475 m, rainforest,

21.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.7633 S, 49.2669 E, 520 m, rainforest, 22.-24.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato river, 16.7702 S, 49.2664 E, 470 m, rainforest, 23.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.7674 S, 49.2681 E, 500 m, rainforest, 23.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.8175 S, 49.295 E, 360 m, rainforest, 25.-27.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.8121 S, 49.2922 E, 460 m, rainforest, 26.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.8174 S, 49.2925 E, 400 m, rainforest, 26.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Réserve Spéciale Ambatovaky, Sandrangato River, 16.8056 S, 49.2951 E, 480 m, rainforest, 27.II.2010 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Forêt Ambatovy, 14.3 km 57° Moramanga, 18.8508 S, 48.32 E, 1075 m, montane rainforest, 18.XII.2004 (B.L. Fisher); Toamasina, Ambatovy, 12.4 km NE Moramanga, 18.8496 S, 48.2947 E, 1010 m, montane rainforest, 3.-6.III.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Ambatovy, 12.4 km NE Moramanga, 18.8394 S, 48.3084 E, 1080 m, montane rainforest, 4.-8.III.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Ambatovy, 12.4 km NE Moramanga, 18.8477 S, 48.2957 E, 1000 m, montane rainforest, 5.-8.III.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Ambatovy, 12.4 km NE Moramanga, 18.8581 S, 48.2849 E, 1040 m, montane rainforest, 5.-8.III.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Amparihibe, 15° 2' S, 49° 34' E, II.-III.2003 (K.A. Jackson & D. Carpenter); Toamasina, Analamay, 18.8062 S, 48.3371 E, 1068 m, montane rainforest, 21.III.2004 (Malagasy ant team); Toamasina, vic. Andasibe (= Perinet), 950-980 m, 2.-6.II.1977 (W.L. & D.E. Brown); Toamasina, F.C. Andriantantely, 18.695 S, 48.8133 E, 530 m, rainforest, 4.-10.XII.1998 (H.J. Ratsirarson); Toamasina, Montagne d'Anjanaharibe, 18.0 km 21° NNE Ambinanitelo, 15.1883 S, 49.615 E, 470 m, rainforest, 8.-12.III.2003 (B.L. Fisher, C. Griswold et al.); Toamasina, Rte d'Anosibe, km 33, 4.-12.IV.1975 (A. Peyrieras); Toamasina, Betampona, Ambodiriana, 14.V.1993 (P. Rabeson); Toamasina, Reserve Betampona, Camp Vohitsivalana, 37.1 km 338° Toamasina, 17.8867 S, 49.2025 E, 520 m, rainforest, 1.-3.XII.2005 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, F.C. Didy, 18.1983 S, 48.5783 E, 960 m, rainforest, 16.-23.XII.1998 (H.J. Ratsirarson); Toamasina, Mahavelona (Foulpointe), 17.6667 S, 49.5 E, sandy forest & Pandanus marsh, 11.XI.-2.XII.1993 (A. Pauly); Toamasina, Parc National Mananara-Nord, 7.1 km 261° Antanambe, 16.455 S, 49.7875 E, 225 m, rainforest, 14.-16.XI.2005 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, P.N. Mantadia, 18.7917 S, 48.4267 E, 895 m, rainforest, 25.XI.-1.XII.1998 (H.J. Ratsirarson); Toamasina, 19 km ESE Maroantsetra, 350 m, rainforest, 22.IV.1989 (P.S. Ward); Toamasina, F.C. Sandranantitra, 18.0483 S, 49.0917 E, 450 m, 18.-24.I.1999 (H.J. Ratsirarson); Toamasina, Torotorofotsy, 18.8708 S, 48.3474 E, 1070 m, montane rainforest, marsh edge, 24.-29.III.2004 (Malagasy ant team); Toamasina, Parc National de Zahamena, Besaky River, 17.7524 S, 48.8532 E, 760 m, rainforest, 22.II.2009 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Parc National de Zahamena, Onibe River, 17.7591 S, 48.8547 E, 780 m, rainforest, 21.-23.II.2009 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Parc National de Zahamena, Sahavorondrano River, 17.7526 S, 48.8573 E, 765 m, rainforest, 23.II.2009 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toamasina, Parc National de Zahamena, Tetezambatana Forest, near junction of Nosivola and Manakambahiny Rivers, 17.743 S, 48.7294 E, 860 m, rainforest, 18.-19.II.2009 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toliara, Rés. Andohahela, 10 km NW Enakara, 24.5667 S, 46.8167 E, 430 m, rainforest, 22.XI.1992 (B.L. Fisher); Toliara, Rés. Andohahela, 11 km NW Enakara, 24.5667 S, 46.8333 E, 800 m, rainforest, 17.XI.1992 (B.L. Fisher); Toliara, Res. Andohahela, 6 km SSW Eminiminy, 24° 44' S, 46° 48' E, 330 m, wet forest, 4.II.1993 (G.D. Alpert et al.); Toliara, Res. Andohahela, 6 km SSW Eminiminy, 24° 44' S, 46° 48' E, 330 m, rainforest, 4.II.1993 (P.S. Ward); Toliara, Parc National Andohahela, Col de Tanatana, 33.3 km NW Tolagnaro, 24.7585 S, 46.8537 E, 275 m, rainforest,22.-24.XI.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toliara, Forêt Ivohibe 55.0 km N Tolagnaro, 24.569 S, 47.204 E, 200 m, rainforest, 2.-4.XII.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.); Toliara, Forêt Ivohibe 55.6 km N Tolagnaro, 24.5617 S, 47.2002 E, 650 m, rainforest, 4.XII.2006 (B.L. Fisher et al.).