Hypoponera lepida Bolton & Fisher, Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011, Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2843, pp. 1-118: 67-70

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Hypoponera lepida Bolton & Fisher

sp. n.

Hypoponera lepida Bolton & Fisher  HNS  sp. n.

(Figs 67 – 72)

WORKER (holotype in parentheses). Measurements: HL 0.53 – 0.58 (0.53), HW 0.40 – 0.45 (0.41), HS 0.465 – 0.515 (0.470), SL 0.34 – 0.40 (0.36), PrW 0.30 – 0.40 (0.30), WL 0.66 – 0.77 (0.67), HFL 0.34 – 0.40 (0.36), PeNL 0.13 – 0.17 (0.14), PeH 0.32 – 0.39 (0.35), PeNW 0.20 – 0.27 (0.24), PeS 0.220 – 0.270 (0.243) (30 measured). Indices: CI 75 – 79 (77), SI 81 – 91 (88), PeNI 70 – 80 (80), LPeI 38 – 47 (40), DPeI 145 – 178 (171).

Eyes frequently absent but often a vestige of a single minute ommaditium may be present; more rarely a fairly distinct single, small ommatidium can be seen. Apex of scape, when laid straight back from its insertion, distinctly fails to reach the midpoint of the posterior margin in full-face view; SL/HL 0.64 – 0.70. Reticulate-punctate sculpture on cephalic dorsum fine and dense, the punctures crowded, small and sharply defined. Punctate sculpture on dorsum of mesosoma much less strongly defined, sparser and more superficial. Mesonotal-mesopleural suture absent. Metanotal groove entirely absent from dorsum. Sides of propodeal declivity bluntly marginate. Petiole node in dorsal view relatively narrow, with a convex anterior face and flat to feebly impressed posterior face. Petiole node in profile high and relatively short from front to back; slightly shorter at apex than immediately above level of anterior tubercle. Frequently, the anterior face of the petiole node in profile is very shallowly concave and the posterior face very slightly convex, so that the node has a slight forward curve. This feature is not universal and variation occurs within single series. Subpetiolar process with an obliquely descending anterior face, a ventral angle and a short, ascending posterior surface after the angle. Base of cinctus of second gastral tergite smooth and shining in dorsal view, without cross-ribs. Disc of second gastral tergite appearing microreticulate, the sculpture superficial, the punctures wide and shallow, with feebly raised rims that are more or less confluent to achieve the microreticulate appearance; without sharply incised widely separated punctures. Maximum width of first gastral tergite in dorsal view is subequal to, or slightly less than, the width of the second tergite at its midlength. Midline length of second gastral posttergite, from posterior margin of cinctus to apex, is usually slightly less than the maximum width of the segment. Full adult colour light brown to medium brown, the appendages lighter.

Holotype worker, Ghana: Ashanti, Juaso, 8.ix.1992, leaf litter, cocoa (R. Belshaw) (BMNH).

Paratypes. 5 workers with same data as holotype (BMNH, CASC).

The eye is variably developed in this species. In many individuals no trace of an eye can be detected, but sometimes a depigmented spot or small, inconspicuous, single ommatidium can be seen. At its weakest, this ommatidium is easily confused with the surrounding punctate sculpture. From this condition the ommatidium may become gradually slightly larger and more distinctly differentiated, until in some workers it is distinct and darkly coloured, though still only of a single small ommatidium. Degree of development appears to be size-related: in general the largest workers show the most distinct eyes. A single worker-queen intercaste is known, from Korup N.P., in Cameroun(CASC) that has eyes of 10 – 12 ommatidia (Figs 70 – 72).

The two specimens recorded below from Banco National Park, Ivory Coast (in MHNG) may represent a close sibling species. The upper specimen on the pin is badly damaged, with its head detached and mounted separately and its gaster missing; but the lower specimen is complete. This is slightly larger than the range given above, with HL 0.60, HW 0.48, SL 0.42, PrW 0.36, PeNL 0.20, PeH 0.42, PeNW 0.31, CI 80, SI 88, PeNI 86, LPeI 48, DPeI 155, and the sculpture on the second gastral tergite is somewhat more sparse and weaker than is usual in lepida  HNS  , with individual punctures rather more isolated and better defined. Because only a single complete specimen is known, which is otherwise almost identical to lepida  HNS  , it has not been described as a separate species here. The situation can be reviewed if more specimens are ever discovered. For the present lepida  HNS  is defined by its lack of a metanotal groove, lack of cross-ribs in the cinctus of the second gastral tergite, and the second gastral tergite at least equal in width to the first and densely, superficially sculptured.

Differentiation of lepida  HNS  from its apparent closest relative, the Zimbabwean obtunsa  HNS  , is discussed under obtunsa  HNS  . Non-paratypic material examined. Ivory Coast: Tai For. (V. Mahnert); Abidjan, Banco Nat. Pk (I. Löbl). Ghana: Poano (R. Belshaw); Efiduase (R. Belshaw); Sajymasi (R. Belshaw); Bunso (R. Belshaw); Atewa For. Res., Kibi (R. Belshaw); Esunkawkaw (R. Belshaw); Tafo (R. Belshaw); Kade (R. Belshaw); Mampong (P. R o o m ). Nigeria : Ile-Ife (J.T. Medler). Cameroun: Mbalmayo (N. Stork); Nkoemvon (D. Jackson); Prov. Sud, Res. Faune de Campo, Ebodjé (B.L. Fisher); Res. Campo, Massif des Mamelles (B.L. Fisher); N’Kolo, Bondé For., Elogbatindi (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Sud-Ouest, Bimbia For., Limbe (B.L. Fisher); Korup N.P., Mundemba (B.L. Fisher). Central African Republic: Dzanga-Ndoki, Lidjombo (B.L. Fisher); Mabéa Bai, Bayanga (B.L. Fisher).