Mayriella abstinens Forel

Shattuck, S. O. & Barnett, N. J., 2007, Revision of the ant genus Mayriella., Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage to E. O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions. (Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 80), pp. 437-458 : 441-444

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Mayriella abstinens Forel


Mayriella abstinens Forel   HNS , 1902

Figures 1 - 5

Mayriella abstinens Forel   HNS , 1902: 452.

Mayriella abstinens hackeri   HNS Wheeler, 1935: 157 syn. n.

Mayriella abstinens venustula   HNS Wheeler, 1935: 158 syn. n.

Mayriella hackeri   HNS ; Taylor, 1991: 602.

Mayriella venustula   HNS ; Taylor, 1991: 602.


M. abstinens   HNS : Worker syntypes (1 in MCZC, examined, additional in MHNG, not examined) from Mackay, Queensland. M. hackeri   HNS : Worker and queen syntypes (four workers and six queens in MCZC, examined) from nr. Brisbane , Queensland. M. venustula   HNS : Holotype worker ( MCZC, examined) from Tambourine Mt., Queensland.


(In ANIC unless otherwise noted). Australia, New South Wales: 10 km S Mangrove Mt. (Lowery, B. B.) ; 15 km E Legume (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; 15 mi N Lismore, Whian Whian State Forest ( Lowery , B. B.); 1 mi E Murwillumbah (Lowery, B. B.); 1 mi E Murwillumbah Rail Station (Lowery, B. B.); 20 km W Urbenville (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; Blue Knob Mt. , Nightcap Range (Lowery, B. B.) ; Brindle Creek , Border Ranges Natl. Pk, 28 ° 22 ' S 153 ° 05 ' E (Naumann, I. D.); GoogleMaps Dorrigo Natl Pk, E end Blackbutt Track ( Newton, A. & Thayer, M. ) ( MCZC) ; Doyle's River State Forest, Oxley Highway , W Wauchope (Lowery, B. B.); Foxground , 10 mi S Kiama (Lowery, B. B.); Foxground , 8 mi S Kiama (Lowery, B. B.); Genoa (Lowery, B. B.) ; Jerusalem Bay, Cowan , Sydney (Lowery, B. B.); Macksville (Lowery, B. B.) ; Mt. Keira , 34 ° 24 ' S 150 ° 51 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Mt. Ousley , near Wollongong , 34 ° 23 ' S 150 ° 52 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Mt. Saddleback , Kiama (Lowery, B. B.); Mt. Warning (Lowery, B. B.) ; Never Never Picnic area , Dorrigo Natl Pk (Newton, A., Thayer, M.); Ourimbah (collector unknown) ( MCZC) ; Ourimbah State Forest, Wyong (Lowery, B. B.) ; Pymble (Lowery, B. B.) ; Royal Natl. Pk., 34 ° 09 ' S 151 ° 01 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Seal Rocks , 32 ° 26 ' S 152 ° 32 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Sheepstation Creek , Wiangaree State Forest (Newton, A., Thayer, M.) ( MCZC) ; St. Ives , Sydney (Lowery, B. B.) ; Swampy forest behind 7 Mile Beach , Gerroa (Lowery, B. B.) ; Thone River, Oxley Highway, W Wouchope Tomewin, 10 mi N Murwillumbah ( Lowery , B. B.); Whian Whian State Forest, 28 ° 39 ' S 153 ° 20 ' E (( Lowery, B. B.) GoogleMaps ; ( Ward , P. S.) ; upper Allyn Valley , nr. Eccleston (Taylor & Brooks; Taylor, R. W.) ;

Queensland: 1.5 km EbyN Mt. Sorrow , 16 ° 05 ' S 145 ° 27 ' E (Calder, A. & Weir, T.) GoogleMaps ; 3 mi S Blackall (Perkins, F. A.) ; 6 km SSW North Tamborine , 27 ° 56 ' S 153 ° 11 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Alexandra Bay, 16 ° 12 ' S 145 ° 26 ' E (Taylor, R. W. & Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Bald Knob , 5 km ESE Maleny, 26 ° 46 ' S 152 ° 53 ' E (Hill, L.) GoogleMaps ; Binna Burra , Lamington Natl Pk (Lawrence, J. & N.) ; Boombana Natl. Pk., Mt. Glorious (Taylor, R. W.) ; Brisbane (Hacker, H.) ; Cairns District (Lea, A. M.) ; Camp Mt. , Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Cape Tribulation , 16 ° 04 ' S 145 ° 28 ' E (Calder, A. & Weir, T.) GoogleMaps ; Cedar Creek , Tamborine Mt. (Brown, W. L.) ( MCZC) ; Clump Point (Woodward, T. E.) ; Coopers Plains Br. (Perkins, F. A.) ; Crawfords Lookout , Palmerston Natl. Pk (Taylor, R. W.) ; Cunningham's Gap (Lowery, B. B.) ; Dalsy Hill State Forest, 24 km SE Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Eacham Natl Pk, 17 ° 18 ' S 145 ° 37 ' E (Taylor, R. W.) GoogleMaps ; Eungella Natl. Pk., 50 km W Mackay (Lowery, B. B.) ; Gadgaria (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; Gayundah Creek , Hinchinbrook Island, 18 ° 22 ' S 146 ° 13 ' E (Davies, Thompson & Gallon; Monteith, Davies, Thompson & Gallon; Thompson, G.) GoogleMaps ; Goodna , Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Ithica Creek , Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Kirrama Range , via Kennedy (Monteith, G.) ; Kondalilla Natl Pk, Blackall Ranges (Brown, W. L.) ( MCZC) ; Kroombit Tops, 65 km SW Gladstone (Monteith, G. & Thompson, G.) ; Kroombit Tops, SSW Calliope , Beauty Spot 98 , 24 ° 22 ' S 150 ° 59 ' E (Monteith, G.) GoogleMaps ; Kroombit Tops, SSW Calliope , Three Moon Scrub , 24 ° 25 ' S 151 ° 03 ' E (Monteith, G.) GoogleMaps ; Kuranda (Brown, W. L.) ( MCZC); Kuranda , Black Mt. Road , 16 ° 45 ' S 145 ° 33 ' E (Taylor, R. W. & Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Kweebank Cave track, Binna Burra , Lamington Natl. Pk. (Taylor, R. W.) ; Landsborough (Perkins, F. A.) ; Mackay ( Ridy ; Turner, G.) ; McNamee Creek , 17 ° 40 ' S 145 ° 48 ' E (Taylor, R. W. & Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Melita, Cooloola Natl Pk (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; Mt. Coot-tha , Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Mt. Mee State Forest , 27 ° 06 ' S 152 ° 42 ' E (Monteith, G. B.) GoogleMaps ; Mt. Nebo (Taylor, R. W.) ; Mt. Nebo , Brisbane (Lowery, B. B.) ; Mt. Webb Natl. Pk., 15 ° 04 ' S 145 ° 07 ' E ( Calder , A. & Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Mulgrave River Road , 7 km WbyS Bellenden Ker , 17 ° 16 ' S 145 ° 47 ' E (Calder, A. & Weir, T.) GoogleMaps ; Noah Creek , 7 km ENE Thornton Peak , 16 ° 08 ' S 145 ° 26 ' E (Calder, A. & Weir, T.) GoogleMaps ; Noosa River , Cooloola Natl Pk (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; Pingin Hill (Holt, J.) ; Shipton's Flat (S of Cooktown ) (Darlington, P. F.) ( MCZC) ; Spicers Gap , 28 ° 05 ' S 152 ° 25 ' E (Ward, P. S.) GoogleMaps ; Tambourine Mt. (Lea, A. M.) ; Thornton Range , 16 ° 14 ' S 145 ° 26 ' E (Taylor, R. W., Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Tully Falls Natl. Pk., 17 ° 47 ' S 145 ° 33 ' E (Taylor, R. W. & Feehan, J.) GoogleMaps ; Warrawonga , Cooloola Natl Pk (Greenslade, P. J. M.) ; Weipa (Andersen, A. N.) ( TERC) ; Wongabel State Forest, 5 km S Atherton (Monteith & Thompson) ; nr. Brisbane (Hacker, H.) ; New Zealand: Grey Lynn, Auckland (Taylor, R. W.) (MCZC); Mt. Alber, N side, Auckland ( Taylor , R. W.); Mt. Eden , Auckland (Hammond, P. M.); Te Atatu , Auckland ( Keall , J. B.).


This taxon can be separated from other Australian species of this genus by the presence of well developed sculpturing in the posterior section of the scrobe, the large, closely spaced pits on the mesosomal dorsum, and the parallel lateral surfaces of the postpetiole. It can be separated from the south-east Asian M. transfuga   HNS by the less angular petiolar node and more heavily sculptured postpetiole.


Sculpturing in posterior section of antennal scrobe well developed and distinct; sculpturing on dorsal surface of mesosoma consisting of large, closely spaced pits (or rarely smaller and more widely spaced); propodeal spines varying from short and triangular to elongate and thin; dorsal surface of petiole in lateral profile uniformly convex, without distinct dorsal and posterior faces and forming an obtuse angle with the anterior face; in dorsal view, postpetiole with the anterior and posterior regions approximately the same width (the region connecting them either flat or weakly convex); postpetiole and gaster lacking erect hairs dorsally.

Measurements. Worker (n = 10) - CI 0.89 - 0.97; HL 0.42 - 0.57; HTL 0.23 - 0.32; HW 0.39 - 0.50; ML 0.42 - 0.57; PW 0.29 - 0.37; SI 0.58 - 0.73; SL 0.24 - 0.36.


As conceived here, M. abstinens   HNS shows considerable variation in several morphological traits. The most obvious of these include the overall body color and the length of the propodeal spines. The body color varies from uniform light yellow to uniform dark brown, as well as bicolored dark yellow and dark brown. This variation was noted by Wheeler (1935) during his revision and was used when establishing his subspecies M. abstinens hackeri   HNS and M. a. venustula   HNS . The propodeal spines vary in shape from short and triangular to elongate and thin.

During the present study, it was found that the majority of available material could be sorted into yellow forms and dark brown forms and that most of the variation in color occurred between nest series. However, a small number of nests were intermediate between the lightest and darkest forms or were bicolored yellow and brown and could not be easily placed in either form. To complicate matters further, a few series, apparently representing single nests, contained workers of both color forms. Thus color could not be used to sort the available material without arbitrarily placing some specimens.

Propodeal spine morphology shows similar variation to body color, except three classes could be established which overlap minimally. These include very short triangular spines, elongate triangular spines, and elongate thin spines. As with body color, the majority of specimens can be sorted into these three classes with only a small number of specimens being intermediate, and only a few nest series showing variation that spans more than a single class.

When body color and spine morphology are taken together, the same pattern as seen in the characters individually emerges again. The majority of dark individuals have elongate triangular spines with a few having short triangular or elongate thin spines. In contrast, most lightly colored individuals have short triangular spines but a significant number have elongate triangular or elongate thin spines. Thus the majority of the specimens show a consistent pattern as would be expected for two distinct species, but a minority of specimens do not fit with this pattern and suggest that a single species is involved.

Geographically, light body color ranges from the northern extreme of the species south to south-east Queensland while the dark body color ranges from approximately Kennedy (north of Ingham), Queensland south to the southern extreme of the range. All forms of the propodeal spines occur in the Queensland populations while only the intermediate form occurs in New South Wales. Thus body color shows a distinct geographic pattern with light individuals in the north, both color forms throughout the central part of the range, and dark forms occurring in the southern part of the range. Spinal morphology shows a similar pattern, but without the northern differentiation seen in body color.

In addition to color, several other characters show variation within this species. The sculpturing on the head and mesosoma is more pronounced in the darker form when compared with the lighter form. However, it is difficult to determine if this difference is caused by the underlying cuticular coloration accentuating the sculpturing differences, or if the difference is in the cuticular structure. In a few rare cases (for example specimens from Seal Rocks, New South Wales) the dorsum of the mesosoma is essentially smooth with small, widely spaced pits similar to those in M. overbecki   HNS . These specimens are placed here because of the relatively well developed sculpturing in the antennal scrobes and the angular petiole with a short posterior face. In addition to the sculpture, there is a weak trend for the darker form to have a more angular antero-dorsal petiolar face when compared with the lighter morph. However, this shows considerable variation within both forms so that the entire range of variation can be found in each.

Because all of the characters show considerable variation, no individual character could be found to suggest that more than a single variable species is involved and because color and spine morphology do not covary, all specimens are here placed in a single species.

This species has been collected in habitats ranging from dry sclerophyll woodlands (less commonly) to rainforests (more commonly), and once in a garden. Nests are found mainly in soil, either in the open or between rocks, and they have been found nesting within the mounds of Myrmecia auriventris   HNS , M. brevinoda   HNS and M. flavicoma   HNS and Pachycondyla (Bothroponera) mayri   HNS . They also nest arboreally under dead bark and in rotten wood on the ground. Workers forage on the ground (where they are often found in leaf litter samples) as well as arboreally.


Switzerland, Geneva, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra City, CSIRO, Australian National Insect Collection