Phrynoponera gabonensis (Andre)

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2008, The Afrotropical ponerine ant genus Phrynoponera Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1892, pp. 35-52: 43-45

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Phrynoponera gabonensis (Andre)


Phrynoponera gabonensis (Andre)  HNS 

(Figures 2a-d, 3a-e, 4a-f)

Bothroponera gabonensis Andre  HNS  , 1892: 50. Holotype worker, GABON: no loc. (Mocquerys) ( MNHN) [examined]. [Combination in Pachycondyla (Bothroponera)  HNS  by Emery, 1901: 45; in Phrynoponera  HNS  by Wheeler, W.M. 1920: 53.]

Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. striatidens Santschi  HNS  , 1914: 315, fig. 4. Holotype worker, CAMEROUN: Victoria (Silvestri) ( DEUN) [not seen; see note]. [Combination in Phrynoponera  HNS  by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 78; synonymy with gabonensis  HNS  by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]

Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) armata Santschi  HNS  , 1919: 82. Holotype worker, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kitempuka (Gerard) ( NHMB) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Phrynoponera  HNS  by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 773.]

Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) gabonensis var. robustior Santschi  HNS  , 1919: 82. Syntype worker, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Banalia, 12.xii., no. 96 (Bequaert) ( NHMB) [examined]. [Combination in Phrynoponera  HNS  by Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 774; synonymy with gabonensis  HNS  by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]

Phrynoponera gabonensis var  HNS  . esta  HNS  Wheeler, W.M. 1922: 77. Syntype workers and queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Medje, stomach Bufo superciliaris (H.O. Lang); Medje, 27°15'E, 2°25'N, stomach Bufo tuberosus (no collector's name, presumably Lang or Lang & Chapin) ( AMNH, MCZC, LACM) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis  HNS  by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]

Phyrnoponera gabonensis var. fecunda Wheeler  HNS  , W.M. 1922: 78. Syntype workers and queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Akenge, 26°50'E, 2°55'N, stomach Bufo polycercus, Bufo funereus (H.O. Lang) ( AMNH, MCZC, LACM) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis  HNS  by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]

Phrynoponera gabonensis var. umbrosa Wheeler  HNS  , W.M. 1922: 78. Syntype workers, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Medje, stomach Bufo polycercus (H.O. Lang) ( AMNH, MCZC) [examined]. [Synonymy with gabonensis  HNS  by Brown, 1950: 246; here confirmed.]

Phrynoponera heterodus Wheeler  HNS  , W.M. 1922: 78. Holotype queen, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Stanleyville, 25°10'E, 0°30'N (Lang & Chapin) ( AMNH) [examined]. Syn. n.

Note. The holotype worker of striatidens  HNS  is not in NHMB and therefore must be assumed to be in Silvestri's collection at DEUN, which is not currently available for examination. Among the large quantity of material examined the area of the mandible with striation was extremely variable, from entirely absent to complete, and the intensity of striation, when present, was also variable, thus Brown's synonymy of the name is confirmed here.

Worker. TL 7.8-10.2, HL 1.76-2.20, HW 1.76-2.12, CI 95-102, SL 1.38-1.76, SI 78-85, PW 1.44-1.76, WL 2.56-3.04, maximum diameter of eye 0.36-0.46, OI 19-23 (25 measured).

Mandible colour usually red, but quite commonly brownish red, brown or black, with all intermediate shades known; in teneral workers the mandibles may be yellow. Mandible usually smooth with scattered pits but many samples show varying degrees of very fine striate sculpture on the apical half. Less commonly, more than half the mandible may be striate and sometimes the entire mandible is finely striate everywhere. Mandible usually with 4 or 5 teeth but some samples have 6 or 7 (7 in holotype); the maximum number recorded is 8 and some workers have different numbers of teeth on each mandible. Anterior clypeal margin with a conspicuous concavity medially and on each side of the concavity there is a blunt tooth or tooth-like prominence. Head capsule usually black but with the anterior portion and antennae brown to red. Sometimes the antennae are dark brown to blackish and sometimes the head capsule is entirely black or entirely reddish. Cephalic sculpture consists of costulae that may be uniform or broken, variable in coarseness of development, sometimes roughly longitudinal near the midline but otherwise radiating outwards and backwards on each side of the midline. Dorsal mesonotum usually reticulate-rugose, but frequently the rugular cross-meshes are weakened so that the sculpture has an overall longitudinal direction. Mesosoma generally black but varying patches or areas of red are frequent. Legs usually brown to red and distinctly lighter than the mesosoma, but in some they may be blackish. Gastral tergites 1-2 show much variation in density and intensity of sculpture. In the most weakly sculptured examples the tergites are glossy and almost smooth, only vaguely superficially reticulate-punctate. From this pattern the reticulate-punctate sculpture increases in density and intensity, so that the surfaces become entirely covered in a sharply defined reticulate-punctate blanket and the tergal surfaces become less glossy. At any point in this sequence of increasing density of punctation small costulae may appear, first around the setal pits then more extensively between the pits. The costulae increase in density and extent, and become more obviously longitudinal and parallel, until in the most coarsely sculptured series the sculpture of the first and second gastral tergites is entirely of dense longitudinal costulae upon a reticulate-punctate ground-sculpture. The third gastral tergite is usually just reticulate-punctate, but in the most densely sculptured workers some longitudinal costulae may also appear on this sclerite. In general the form of the gastral sculpture is only slightly variable within nest samples, but the changes in sculpture outlined form a gradual and continuous sequence in which there are no obvious breaks. Posterior margins of the gastral sclerites are usually reddish (yellowish in tenerals), but in some the sclerites are entirely black.

All the synonyms listed above were based on workers, or workers and queens, except for heterodus  HNS  , which was based on an isolated queen. All were founded on slight variations of colour and sculpture except for heterodus  HNS  , which had a dental count at the higher end of the range seen in the species. The dental count of heterodus  HNS  was reported as 7 by Wheeler (1922), but there are actually 6 teeth on the right mandible and apparently7 on the left, which is mostly concealed by the overlapping right mandible. All of these characters are now known to be gradient and to lack taxonomic value at species-rank. Brown's (1950) summary dismissal of all the "varieties" was therefore justified. Many queens are now represented in collections and they exhibit the same gradient variations in colour, sculpture and dental count as are shown by the worker caste.

Males of this species, discussed above, originated in two series with the data: Ghana: Tafo, and; respectively "in wet-rotten log" and "wet-rotten branch in leaf litter" (B. Bolton). In the first series the male was collected with both workers and queen, in the second with workers. Both are in BMNH and one specimen is in LACM.

P. gabonensis  HNS  is the most common, widely distributed and frequently encountered member of the genus. Specimens are usually retrieved from leaf litter samples but also occur in pitfall traps. The species is known to nest in and under rotten wood, in compacted soil and in termitaries.

Material examined. Ivory Coast: Lamto (J Levieux); F.C.Haute Dodo (K. Yeo); F.C. Cavally (K. Yeo). Ghana: Tafo (D. Leston); Tafo (B. Bolton); Mt Atewa (R.W. Taylor); Mt Atewa (D. Leston); Bunso (D. Leston); Bunso (R. Belshaw); Mamang River (K. Yeo). Cameroun: Mbalmayo (N. Stork); Tissongo (D. Jackson); Nkoemvon (D. Jackson); Prov. Sud, P.N. Campo, ESE Campo (B.L. Fisher); Res. Campo, Massif des Mamelles (B.L. Fisher); Res. de Campo (D.M. Olson); Res. de Fauna de Campo, ESE Ebodje (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Sud-Ouest, Bimbia For. (B.L. Fisher). Gabon: CNRS, Makokou (W.H. Gotwald); Makokou (I. Lieberburg); Prov. Estuaire, Pointe Ngombe, Ekwata (B.L. Fisher); F.C. Mondah, NNW Libreville (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Woleu-Ntem, ESE Minvoul (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Ogooue-Maritime, Res. Moukalaba, NW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Moukalaba, SW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Monts Doudou, NW Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Res. Monts Doudou (S. van Noort); WNW Doussala (B.L. Fisher). Central African Republic: Res. Dzanga-Sangha, NW Bayanga (B.L. Fisher); P.N. Dzanga-Ndoki, Mabea Bai, NE Bayanga (B.L. Fisher); P.N. Dzanga-Ndoki, Lidjombo (B.L. Fisher). Democratic Republic of Congo: Kikwit (A. Dejean); Ituri For., vic. Epulu (T. Gregg); Epulu (S.D. Torti); Ituri For., Beni-Irumu (N.A. Weber); Walikale (Ross & Leech); Irangi, Luhoho Riv. (Ross & Leech); Ituri, Mont Hoyo (Ross & Leech); Akenge (H.O. Lang); Medje (H.O. Lang); N'Gayu (H.O. Lang); Gamangui (H.O. Lang); Avakubi (H.O. Lang); Stanleyville (Lang & Chapin); Bafwasende(H.O. Lang); Kitempuka (Gerard); Banalia (Bequaert). Angola: Dundo, Carrisso Park, R. Luachimo (no collector's name). Sudan: Imatong Mts, Equatoria (N.A. Weber); Lotti For. (Myers); Azza For. (Myers). Uganda: Kibale For. N.P., Kanyawara (Quicke & Laurenne); Lake Victoria, Nkosi I, S. Sesse (G.D.H. Carpenter); Zika Forest, nr Entebbe (G Arnold). Kenya: Kakamega For., Kaunosi (A. Loveridge); Kakamega Distr., Isecheno Nat. Res., Isecheno (R.R. Snelling); Isecheno Forest Res. (W. Okeka); Kakamega Distr., Yala River For. Res. (R.R. Snelling); Kakamega Distr., Bunyangu Nat. Res., Salazar Circuit (Snelling & Espira).


France, Paris, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


USA, Nebraska, Lincoln, University of Nebraska State Museum


Switzerland, Basel, Naturhistorisches Museum


USA, New York, New York, American Museum of Natural History


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


USA, California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History


United Kingdom, London, The Natural History Museum [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]














Phrynoponera gabonensis (Andre)

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L. 2008


Bothroponera gabonensis Andre

Mayr 1862


gabonensis Andre

Mayr 1862